Nothing in Particular…

I figured when we made the decision to homeschool that our already spotty blog would likely become closer to scarce, and I think after a month of “school” that notion is becoming a reality. We won’t shut it down, but I am here to tell you what you already know: there will not be as much reading material here as in the past. (Not that a whole bunch of you have been losing sleep over waiting for the next post to show up.)

Life is full but very, very good. And for this we are thankful.  But given my much larger reading/work load and Jay’s extra hours put in on the Viewzi front, neither of us have been giving our little ole’ blog much love or attention of late.

What we have been doing:

* Loving our home schooling thus far: it has its ups and downs, but how thankful we are that we have the opportunity to try this out for a year.

* Visiting the horsies each week with Abigail as she begins riding lessons – this was a long-time dream of hers (long-time in the worldview of an almost ten year old!) and she could not be more thrilled, nor could we. Love our instructor (also a homeschooling Mom as it turns out) and the way our children are welcomed to the stables each week by the other adults/students there, not to mention the pretty, pretty horses!

* Preparing for the remaining bedrooms/baths in our home which have not been painted by yours truly, to be painted tomorrow and Tuesday – YAY!! Much testing and agonizing over color choices, repeat trips to the paint store to adjust shades of blue and pink, removal of hardware, filling of holes, sanding of cabinet and drawer fronts, moving of furniture and paraphernalia to allow this work to take place. Though I love our bathroom, I am not gonna miss the screaming red walls that frighten me awake each morning!!


* Counting down, along with the bride-to-be, the last few days before the big event on the 27th. There are a lot more details I could insert here, but I haven’t the time – suffice to say we are trying to coach Josiah about what it means to walk down a church aisle at the front of a wedding procession (and yes, the bride and groom have been forewarned that ANYTHING could happen!); getting ready for the kickoff event of the weekend: the big “Welcome to Town For the Wedding” barbecue at our casa on Thursday night; and making sure all wedding clothes are ready to go for the five of us in the wedding party. Here is miss Abigail in her junior bridesmaid’s gown at her final fitting:


* Schlepping kids to volleyball, soccer and football practices each week (one child for each sport) and cheering aforementioned children and their teams on each weekend at their respective games. Yesterday was Abigail’s first time to get that volleyball over the net on her serves (go Abigail!!), thereby scoring points for the Lady Knights, and it was also Nicolas’ first soccer game EVER!! He gleefully reports “We won, Mom!!” about his first game, and if ever there was an enthusiastic little soccer player, it is Nicolas.


Jonathan is thankfully only playing the “flag” kind of football, we’ll save that brutish tackling for another year!


* Listening to kids practice their piano: Jonathan joined Abigail in taking lessons this year. After a rough start he sits down no less than ten times a day to practice his stuff, I am astonished at how he has taken to it!

* Cleaning out closets and “junk stashes”, welcoming new neighbors, fellowshipping with friends, planning field trips, delighting in the cooler weather by playing outside a TON and continuing in my feeble gardening attempts.


* Trying to exercise with some sort of regularity. ‘Nuff said.

Hopefully we’ll be back after the wedding with a report and some festive photos!

New Pets!

On Tuesday mornings the children and I head over to our home school co-op. While there, they take classes in various subjects from teachers who are wonderfully nurturing as well as experts in their field – we theoretically could have signed up for endless classes, but limited our choices to some arts, science, and a Kindergarten concepts class for Nicolas.  Which has been a real hit.  He is enjoying his sweet class with nine other K-ers, and they have been studying worms these past two weeks, much to his delight.

The highlight of the unit on worms was yesterday: at the end of class, each student was gifted with his own “worm habitat” which comes complete with two of the little critters inside!! For those of you who are wondering, “worm habitat” appears to be a fancy term for a box of dirt and newspaper shavings – observe:


The addition of two worms to the household means we are now up to five pets, almost a zoo by most standards, but still admittedly not nearly as lively or exciting as Melissa’s house of pets (though I don’t think even they have worms yet)!!  Nevertheless we all gotta start somewhere. And so I give you the two newest additions to our family:

Indiana Jones and “Short Round”. Here they are in their habitat posing next to the worm breakfast of champions.


And here is one of the little guys sticking his head out for a peek at us…I’m not for sure, but I think that is Indiana.


So Melissa, if you’re reading, I feel your pain, Honey, I really do. Jay has already laid plans and is quickly executing on a project to bring even more wildlife into this house. About which I shall have pictures and info aplenty to share next week. So maybe you and I could see about going in on a nice, little pet-free cottage somewhere? Some quiet place with no wildlife, no poop, where we would bask in the peace and quiet and CLEANLINESS of it all….and then more than likely become bored silly in a matter of minutes!

On Beauty

My sister’s wedding is in three weeks, and I am honored to be her Matron of Honor. As such, I get to wear a very beautiful dress. This here dress:


And yes, dear readers, since you asked, that is me in the picture. On top of home schooling three kids and chasing after a fourth, I do a little dress modeling on the side. Just for fun.

But, since I am about six inches shorter than the average bridesmaid, there is much fabric to hack off and hem, etc etc.  So this afternoon, I went to see a seamstress about some alterations. And when I put on the dress, I was mortified to see that my middle section is rather bloated and puffy from a surgical procedure I had just three days ago. Such that I no longer look quite as good as I do in the above photo. Ahem.

In fact, I look about two months pregnant, and I’m not exaggerating.  Which would be fine, except that I’m not two months, or any months pregnant. Ugh. The seamstress was very nice about my round tummy, and tried to console me by saying things should resolve nicely in time for the wedding, and in the meantime, it wasn’t going to complicate her sewing or skew the fixes she needs to make. Well, that is good at least.

When Jay got home tonight I related my sad story, finishing with “And Honey, I truly look like I either have a serious beer belly, or am quite obviously pregnant. The dress looks terrible!”  To which my  daughter, listening nearby quickly responded “Oh not at all, Mom!!” with a sweet, sweet smile, clearly wanting to cheer me up, “It’s not bad like you think it isl! Sometimes you can be plump AND pretty!! And look, you have rosy cheeks too!”

Now of course this was not exactly the comfort I wanted, but I appreciate Abigail’s desire to comfort her mother, and her innocent and cheerful words gave me pause, in spite of my disgust over the size of my middle. It hit me that nothing in her language smacked of twentieth century terminology, and so I asked her where she’d heard that sort of wording. In a book, of course, and an old book at that.  A Little Princess is where she’d read conversation about a group of ladies who were plump, pretty, with rosy cheeks to boot.

And despite racking my feeble brain, I cannot think of a modern piece of literature that highlights anyone being pretty who is also described as “plump”. Which reminded me that beauty does come in all different sizes. Not that our culture recognizes all forms of beauty; it doesn’t. But when I hear my daughter’s viewpoint, that pretty does not necessarily mean skinny, it strikes me that she has a fairly healthy and balanced view of what is beautiful at her ripe old age of nine. And I hope that as she grows and matures, and sees more and more of what our culture interprets as beauty, she will continue to see and recognize beauty for what it truly is, in its many different sizes and shapes.

In today’s society of model-thin, almost anorexic-like ideals of beauty that our young girls are bombarded with, it is helpful…NO, make that needful for us parents to convey and live out this truth to our daughters (and our sons, for that matter, as our young men are perhaps even more inundated with unrealistic and unhealthy images of what ideal female beauty is).  But maybe we ourselves need to be reminded of it before we try to help our children learn it is so.  And hey readers….let’s not forget about those rosy cheeks either!

More From the Maker of the Skirty!!

Some of you may remember this post from January about the debut of the “Skirty”. For those of you who do not know what a “skirty” is….go here:

For what it’s worth, we have found ours to be a great piece of clothing, and Abigail loves to wear it any time she is in a skirt or dress.  Were it up to me (which it isn’t) I would gift every little girl in the world with a skirty!


Well….after a long wait, it looks like Amoretti Designs is not too far away from launching a spring line of girlie things…and Rebekah Merkle has set up a blog to keep interested customers updated on the latest.

You can get to it here:

Those of you who aren’t familiar with Rebekah may know of her by association: her Dad, Doug Wilson is a pastor, has written many a book for the Christian family, and is a big figure in the Christian Classical school movement.

Rebekah herself is a home-schooling mom to five. Now…..having recently become a home schooling Mom myself, truly I do NOT know how she finds time to design, create, and debut anything close to a spring line of clothing, but then it is no surprise that the Lord blesses some of us with extraordinary gifts!!!

So…take a moment to peek at her blog: you can enter a drawing to win a free skirty, as well be put on her mailing list for her spring preview sale in January.

Rebekah, her mom, and another sister or two blog on issues pertaining to Christian women at Femina.   I often find their insights helpful and encouraging in my own life.


…with two sets of sweet friends who have both received glorious news about their adoption referrals within the last two weeks. What a beautiful picture it is of our own adoption as children of God, to see people welcoming babies who were once orphaned, into their hearts and home, resulting in a family. We cannot wait to see these three baby girls brought home, and are praying “Soon, Lord Jesus, soon!!”  Jana and Michael, Jami and Shawn we are so happy with you.

Our Home School Plan

Several friends have asked me recently what exactly we are going to use for material in this home schooling adventure we are embarking upon. And while I joked in my previous entry about pretending to be prepared for our year, the truth is that I have been researching like a mad woman since April.

For the past five months I have eaten, slept and breathed home school curriculum, pored over catalogs, read countless reviews, asked every home schooler I know about their personal curriculum choices, compared and contrasted this and that program, and have really, really loved the entire process.  Those of you who know me well are aware that I live to research – it is glorious fun to me. Surely someday I will figure out how to market this ability to obsess on something so singularly, but for now hopefully my family will enjoy the benefits of my having peeked down every curriculum rabbit hole I could possibly find in an effort to put together the best plan (that I could create) for our particular family’s schooling needs this year.

I will ask my hunk of a webmaster to post fancy links and permanent pics of our various choices over to the right so that anyone who might be interested can see info about our curriculum choices long after this particular post is gone from this front page. And while it sounds rather arrogant to presume folks might be even the littlest bit interested in such granular information, well, the fact is, I have answered this question several times already, so surely there are more people out there who maybe will benefit from being able to access that.

That said, here’s the rundown of our current choices in no particular order. It should be stated up front that much, but not all, of what we are using was guided by suggestions and curriculum structure outlined in Susan Wise Bauer’s (for those of you who are wondering, no – I don’t think she’s related to Jack at all) text, The Well-Trained Mind. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about Classical Education.

Bible: The Child’s Story Bible by Catherine F. Vos

Math: Singapore Math

Grammar: Rod and Staff, 4th and 2nd grades; Language Lessons for Little Ones, Volume 3 by Queen Homeschool, K

Spelling: Modern Curriculum Press’ Spelling Workout

Vocabulary: Wordly Wise, 4th and 2nd grades

History: beginning the year with a short study of Texas History from various sources including State History from a Christian Perspective ; spending the majority of the year completing Year 4 of our Classical History Cycle “1850 to Modern Times via Biblioplan. Biblioplan is a literature-based history program which allows you to tailor your material to the ages you are teaching, and provides a huge list of “living” books at all levels to choose from. Our “spine” will be Joy Hakim’s History of Us, Volumes 6-10.

Latin: Mars Hill’s Latin Primer, 4th grade

Composition: Susan Wise Bauer’s Writing With Ease

Science: outsourced via the Heard Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary

Poetry: Dickinson, 4th grade; Milne, 2nd grade; Stevenson, K

Art: outsourced via a local Co-op: Drawing I, 4th and 2nd grade; Young Children’s Art, K (I won’t provide links here, but email me for more information if you are local, and interested.)

Handwriting: Universal Publishing’s Manuscript Enrichment and Manuscript/Cursive, 2nd grade; Universal Publishing’s My Letter Book, K

Copywork: Copywork for Girls, 4th grade; Copywork for Little Boys, 2nd grade

Phonics/Reading for Nicolas: finish up 100 Lessons, begin Explode the Code, Reading Pathways, and ongoing memorization of all his phonograms to hopefully provide him a secure foundation for lifelong reading.

Literature: this is a vast subject so I will only skim the surface. and admittedly, I have not selected books for the entire year yet. Abigail (4th grader) and Jonathan (2nd grader) will study the same texts for the practical reasons of both time, and because Jonathan’s reading level and comprehension are almost equal to hers anyway. We will start with Five Children and It, follow that with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and also enjoy Dickens’ A Christmas Carol before Christmas.

Nicolas, while welcome to listen to these above selections read aloud, will enjoy literature on a much younger level, and I am choosing to concentrate on Hans Christian Anderson, Kipling, and Aesop with him.

I have not included every last piece of material we will use this year, but if anyone has more questions I will gladly answer those. Truly, we are all so excited about this year at home. The older two children have worked hard on summer math since beginning of July, and Nicolas has progressed amazingly in his reading level/awareness in that time as well.  Aside from their scholastic improvements, we have already had countless opportunities to learn about how to better live together and love each other.

Though we have currently begun about half of what is listed above, the plan is to be at “full school” by Tuesday following Labor Day.  I’ll keep you posted about how it goes.

Blissful Beach

We have just returned from a week in what we considered almost paradise, better known as Gulf Shores. What a great time we had swimming and sunning, visiting with good friends, and eating lots of yummy food (and drinking lots of yummy wine!).  Don’t we look relaxed and happy?


Maybe I will find time to post more pics and some details from our trip later.

But for now it’s back to planning mode: I returned with my laundry done, only to realize sports and “extra-curricular” activities begin next week, and honestly, so should Horne Elementary (hat tip to Angie). So I am scrambling to finish pulling together the final pieces of our schedule and pretend that I am really, really organized and ready to jump into this home schooling thing. Heheh.

I leave you with a pic of what I think are the cutest set of kids in the world, but I’m probably a little biased:


Edited to add: pics are posted. I only uploaded 90 of the 188 shots we took. Don’t worry, you can thank me later.

Further Edited to add: I hope all our readers know, I was not the person who made the comment about the fat guy. No sirree!!

Look out folks!

I am pleased to announce that there is now a Wii in the house.  Not because we decided to buy one for the kids; no, they patiently saved week after week after month after month of allowances, pooled them and got this thing on their own.  Bravo. That is patience.

Now, not being a huge fan of computer games in general, I was dubious when I heard about the new Wii. The Hornes have never owned any gaming systems, and I was pretty happy with that state of affairs, not wanting our household to be in any way contributing to the general trend lately of sedentary, couch potato, eyes-glazed-over while fingers move at rapid speeds, zoned out kids our culture seems so apt at producing.

But after seeing our children play Wii with friends’ kids in our church home group I realized this newest system is pretty innovative and cannot be categorized as a mere computer game. It is interactive, our kids always play standing up (and moving around quite a bit to boot), those waiting their turns cheer on the competitors, the whole family gets into it, the games are really different, and it is just a whole lotta fun. Everyone, from the 3 year old to the 83 year old in the family can play, and often, kids have the advantage over the parents. (Much to Daddy’s dismay!)

So….all that to say, we are enjoying our new toy. Especially the kids. Or at least they will be if we can convince Grammy and Grandy to stop their fierce competition for a few moments, and give the kids a turn!


Our Weekend

It has been such a busy week that I haven’t found time to post pictures or a recap of our little weekend getaway.  On Friday last, all six of us drove to Austin where we dropped the four children with my parents for the weekend. Nana and Grandpa have been encouraging us for some time now to take a little break and let them handle the children for a night or two so Jay and I can just have some time off.  Which is really nice of them, considering all the work our four kids are!! and so we happily waved goodbye and headed off to nearby Hill Country to stay in a lovely little inn.

It was a great place and we picked it with relaxation and good food in mind. The inn


is set on 100 acres, with trails aplenty for exploring, and beautiful views of the Texas country.


They serve a big breakfast as well as supper on the premises, (here I am in the middle of the wonderful dining room):


so if you just want to kick back and read, take a walk, enjoy a good meal, and be lazy for a day or two, it is a perfect place. The room are really nice as well, with cozy beds (here is where Jay slept),


beautiful antiques, and exquisitely appointed bathrooms. Which, as it turned out, was truly a high point for me, as I spent much of our “getaway” weekend sadly, quite sick. And in the company of not my handsome husband whom I had dreamed of spending so much quality time with, but instead, that lovely bathroom, where I slept:


Ok, that is a joke, but not too far from the truth!

I knew my tummy was not happy before we got to our inn, but had hoped and prayed it was a temporary state of affairs. Sadly, it was not. And given the menu for our meals was pre-done, we really couldn’t request the lighter, gentler fare I needed. And so at each meal I tried bravely to enjoy the glorious food set in front of me, and with each passing hour, my stomach got angrier and angrier at me for not listening to its cries of distress.  Oh the misery!

You must know, dear reader, how I struggled with frustration over the weekend.  And even felt a bit peeved with God, who of course had the ability to remove my ailment but who despite my pleas for a healthy stomach, appeared to answer “no”.  I kept reminding him (you know, just in case for a moment there He, um, forgot?) that Jay and I get very little “alone” time and couldn’t He maybe save this rotten virus for another day, and maybe allow us to get our money’s worth out of this wonderful weekend we had been planning for so long? Was that really so much to ask? Hmmm?

And on Saturday, I actually did have a few hours where I felt pretty good: we had a nice (and even educational) outing to a nearby ranch that produces olive oil and also houses a winery on its premises. We enjoyed a light lunch afterward


at a charming little restaurant which you must visit if you are ever near Wimberly, called The Leaning Pear.  The young owners (who are Aggies!), as well as their staff are lovely people, and the food is delicious and very fresh. We saw several waitresses hoof it out to the herb garden just behind the restaurant to cut fresh basil, etc for the food as it was being prepared. Oh how I do digress…

The point of all of this is that throughout the weekend, as I over and over prayed for relief from my woes, the verse I kept remembering was in Corinthians where poor Paul is pleading for the Lord to remove a “thorn” that ails him and God doesn’t take it away. Nor does He really give him any huge bolt of lightening regarding why is he suffering, or what huge purpose it might serve. God just gently tells him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

And I was reminded, as horrible as I felt, that God’s grace is felt over and over, everyday in my life, the good days, and the bad days. That it was a blessing to even be able to go away and take a break, that if I had to be sick, I was in a restful, peaceful place with a man who loves me dearly, and most of all, in the care of a good and loving God.  And while my tummy still hurt, I was thankful for that reassurance.

On Sunday we called home to my doctor on our way back to pick up our children. Dr. F put me on a liquid diet to rest my insides, and after a few days of very little food, things are much, much better.

A big thank-you is in order to my folks, who took stunningly great care of our progeny all weekend, and really enjoyed it and even asked us to bring them back soon when I am feeling better for another go at this weekend getaway thing. Thanks, Mom and Dad — You guys did great. And yes, sure, we’ll bring them back.


Conversation with Nicolas

Nicolas: Momma, can I please go finish my computer game that I started earlier?

Mom: I don’t know, Nicolas, I think you have played enough computer already today.

Nicolas: Oh please, Momma, I just want to finish my game!

Mom: Honey, it isn’t actually good for your brain and your body to play too much on the computer.

Nicolas: But Mom, it’s helping my brain, really it is! The game is teaching me how to “right-click”!!