Thursday, December 31, 2015

Goodbye 2015, Hello 2016!

As always and like most people I know, I like to take a look back at the year coming to a close.  As I sat here drinking my hot apple cider I am reminded of some things that happened over this year. I just wanted to take a few moments to look back and then a few to look forward.

This month we started off a whole new year, our oldest turned 15 and the knowledge that she would be taking drivers training sometime in 2015 became known. This was a sad month for me as the days passed that would have been the 3rd and 1st birthdays for our little Kate and Quinn, I guess January will always be hard.

This month was  a very quiet month for us, not a lot was going on, but we were preparing for something big in March.

We looked forward to March and spring break because we knew that we were headed for Disney!!! We took the entire month getting ready and getting packed.  It was a wonderful trip, but my mama didn't get to go as planned, she was sick. We missed her, but we tried to have so much fun that she could feel it back home. It was during our trip that we celebrated what would have been the 4th birthday of our little August, being at Disney made me miss him even more.

Me and my girl Tink

This month brought some good, my hubby and I took a quick trip to Biltmore House in Asheville NC to celebrate our anniversary and to see the Downton Abbey exhibit they had on display. It also brought some bad news, my mother was diagnosed with cancer.It was a hard thing to hear, but one that had to be accepted and took care of.

This month we actually celebrated our 10th anniversary and the 9th birthday of our youngest. We had a Disney themed birthday party and I dressed as my favorite character, Tink. 

This month was hot and spent at home.  I always use the month of June to purge my house. I go through each room and cleaned it top to bottom all while clearing away a years worth of clutter. We also had an art day camp here at home. We picked one artist, this year was Jackson Pollack. We studied his art and technique and then made one of our own. 
Caroline's Desert 

Grace's Chrome 

We celebrated our nations birthday and took a staycation to Tweetsie Railroad and Blowing Rock.  It was nice to get away for the day and I made a new friend, Mr. Llama. He was a sad llama because I didn't have any food for him. We also spent time at the creek playing, where we saw two mermaids in the water. Grace also started/completed Drivers Ed and got her learners permit, now if I could just get her to drive.

We took a day trip to The American Girl store in Charlotte and stopped by the Cheesecake Factory. We bought lots of cheescake slices, put them in a cooler and made our way back home. Our oldest Grace, also attended a banquet for Hematology/Oncology patients, to which she wore the pearls giving to me by my good friend, Mr. Charles Pike. He was like a grandpa to me and always told stories of his time in WWII. After all this summer fun, school started back and we returned to our normal schedule and I started homeschooling for the very first time.

We took a Sunday school class trip to Carowinds and rode Fury 325, it was awesome. We also saw Dr. Ben Carson in person, it was the first time I had ever seen a presidential candidate before.



This month we attended our local agricultural fair, a tradition for our family. We found out that our youngest won second place for her age group in Art.  She was very proud of herself. I also entered an exhibit in the photography section, I didn't win, but it was still fun to see my work on display. I enjoyed my favorite fair food, a Krispy Kreme burger and finally got a ride selfie with my husband. We enjoyed a short beach vacation and had perfect weather. On a more somber note, we attended the annual Heartstrings Walk and took the steps our three babies never will.  It was also during this month that I crossed three things off my bucket list: I went to Medieval Times, attended my very first Renaissance Festival and stopped to pick cotton on the side of the road. October was a very busy month!




This month brought about such sadness for us as we said goodbye to my Aunt Shirley. She was a wonderful woman who loved her family and loved Jesus.  She fought a long hard 2 year battle with cancer and then the Lord called her home. I am sad that she is not with us, but thankful to know she has been made whole.  This was the month that we took our first homeschool field trip. We went to Reynolda House Museum of American Art. They had an Impressionism exhibit called "The Artist's Garden" and we were learning about impressionism.

And now here we are at the end of the year. We have lived thorugh many family get togethers, lots of calories consumed and Christmas. We also enjoyed a marathon of Star Wars movies to prepare for Episode 7. I can hardly wait to see it.



This year was like all the others, a roller coaster of up and downs, good and bad, joy and sorrow.  As I think about it all years are like that.  I am looking forward to 2016, I have no idea what it will hold and to be honest, it kind of freaks me out not knowing what might be ahead. I just have to remind myself that even though I don't know what tomorrow holds, I know who holds tomorrow and I need to put it all into the Lords hands.

Happy New Year!!!

"That's my 'two-cents worth', what's yours?"

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Adventures in Homeschooling

I have been wanting to start this blog series for some time now, but honestly homeschooling has kept me so busy I haven't even had time to think about it.  By now I had already planned to have written several post on this topic, but there just aren't enough hours in the day to do it all.

Since we started this homeschooling adventure back in August we have really had a time. Most days have been great, but their have been many days when tears have happened, for both of us. The beginning was really rough, we had a hard time adjusting to the schedule and had to rearrange our day around the school itself. It is not your typical home school, there are actual live classes that she has to attend every day at certain times. It is also the first year our state has had this type of school, so naturally there are some "bugs" in the program.

The hardest thing so far has been taking myself out of some of the work. For instance, she is very independent as far as the online classes. She needed a little help with learning to take notes, but she is doing better with that.  The hard part is test time. The majority of her test are online and it is very difficult for me not to jump in to help. I have to remind myself to keep my distance, only offer help if needed and then keep the help small. The only help I give is to ask her questions and get her mind to thinking on what she needs to do. Just a simple question can sometimes get her mind going and heading in the right direction.

Homeschooling is defiantly not for the faint of heart. By the end of most days I am so exhausted I think I actually fall asleep before I crawl into bed.  Others my brain is so wired up from he day that I lay awake thinking about what I didn't get done or what I need to have ready for tomorrow.

Some days she just gets it, no problems at all, it just clicks. Other days not so much. We have not started fractions yet,but this little cartoon sums up the "other days".

I try to start off every day with a positive attitude and encourage her to do the same. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, this describes those days: 

I am very happy about having the next two weeks off and so is Caroline.  She is most excited about not having to do Math for a while and I can't say as I blame her. What can I say about home school?  Is it hard work? Absolutely! Does it get trying after a while? Most defiantly! Even through it all I am so thankful for the opportunity to do this with her. It gives us lots of one on one time and believe or not I have actually learned some things that I didn't get in school. I was either not listening that day or I just don't remember, but now I am getting it. 

"That's my 'two-cents worth', what's yours?"

Remembering Them

Any of you that have been following this blog for any amount of time know the story of our three little babies that we lost to miscarriage. This time of year it seems that their memory hits me even harder. It is very difficult to get together with family/friends/church family. I imagine how each one would have fit into our lives so perfectly. I see the other little ones that are the same age and think about how they would have all played together. It brings up many triggers for my grief.

I have found some ways to help with that grief and one is giving to others. Every year we do Operation Christmas Child or Angel Tree or some other organization to help out kids. I enjoy being able to give back and bless others as God has blessed us.

I was trying to think of something to do for each of the babies this year. I have this little memorial garden (still a work in progress) for them. It is a place I go to visit with them and just spend a little quiet time. I had thought about buying something special for their garden, but I just wasn't sure. I went to bed one night a couple of weeks ago thinking about it and discussed it with my husband.  The next morning I woke up with a wonderful idea.  

After a couple of days thinking it over and praying about it I thought I had figured out what I wanted to do. Before I had a chance to talk it over with my husband a letter came in the mail and I knew it was God telling us what we needed to do. I was such a simple idea, but one I knew was the right one. 

You see, when I found out I was pregnant with each child, all 5 of them, I prayed that each one would make a difference in this world. I prayed that God would use them to be the good in this world and to lead others to him.  I still pray that for my two living children. It is not always easy to see the good, even though it is there. I want my girls to be the good they want to see in the world.

In going along with that thought I came to this conclusion. Even though my three babies can not be here to be the good they want to see in the world, I can use their memory to do it for them.  My husband and I decided that starting this year we will have a new Christmas tradition. Every year we will choose one charity and make a donation in memory of August, Kate and Quinn.  We will research and pray for God to show us which charity our donation should go to. I know that by doing this not only will we be helping others and ourselves, but it will also make sure that my children are always remembered.  

I would like to tell you about this years charity, Arts for Life.  This program is near and dear to us as it was a big part of our lives when Grace was going through her chemo treatments. They have volunteers who go into patient rooms and do art projects with them. They also have a special room in the hospital for patients to do art when they are able leave their rooms. I have put a link to their website so you can learn a little more about them and if the Lord leads you to, make a donation to them so others kids can benefit too. 

I know that many of us are missing a  loved one this year. It could be someone we lost recently or that has been gone for many years. What better way to remember and honor them, than to make a donation to a charity or cause that was dear to their hearts? 

"That's my 'two-cents worth', what's your's?"

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Death of a Dream

Have you ever had that moment when you realize that no matter how hard you pray or how much you beg God's answer is still no?

Well I have!!

In fact that moment of clarity came to me only a few months ago. Was it hard to take? You better believe it was. In fact there is still a small little spark of hope inside of me that longs to be wrong. I guess when you want something so bad it is hard to give up on it. I guess it just becomes ingrained into your being.  Maybe that is the reason why God didn't say yes to my prayer. Maybe I was so focused on it and not on other things.

I was once told that written down my thoughts and feelings was very helpful. That sometimes when we feel that we can't talk to someone about it, we can put it into words, allowing us to get it out of our systems.  That is one reason that I started this blog, to help me deal with issues that I just didn't feel like I could say out loud, this is one of those topics.

Just sitting here preparing to write brings tears to my eyes.  It has been so difficult to want something so badly. I have this desire in my heart for this dream.  It is so strong in me that to give it up feels like giving up a piece of myself.  This desire is as strong as my need to breath and live. How do I give that up? I want to be able to let go. I want to be able to accept that it is just not part of God's plan for me, for my family.  I keep trying to find the good in it, but I can't.  I struggle with feelings of jealousy that others are getting this dream and I am not.  I have to remind myself each day that God has a reason for this.  That he knows the future and sees that it is just not what we need, but I still struggle.

When a dream dies you grieve. Not just for the dream itself, but for every dream that it pointed too. You think about all the things this one dream would have brought.  You wonder at the memories you would have made and how different life would have been.

My dream has died and with it all the little dreams attached to it. I am trying to see the positives. I am trying to make a new dream.  I am trying and I am failing.  Maybe some day I can find that new dream, but as for now, all I can do is grieve for what has been lost.

"That's 'my two-cents worth', what's yours?"

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Our version of Elf on the Shelf

I know that this is completely and totally my opinion, but those Elf on the Shelf things are really creepy!!!  I can't even begin to imagine having one of those freaky things in my house staring at me.  Honestly it would do no good for us to have one, my girls would not be fooled by that thing at all.Most likely he would end up tied to the ceiling fan, trapped under the door of the piano or locked up in the oven. Yea, my kids would make that Elf wish he had a nicer family.  Why would they be so mean to him? Because they think he is freaky too!

I understand the premise behind the whole idea. Lets go out and buy this Elf to make our kids behave.  I just don't understand how an elf making messes in your house encourages good behavior. I know that some people just have their elf sitting around not really doing much, but I have seen that elf make some major messes. It boggles my mind how he or she could actually be helping. I guess it is just the fun letting  the Elf be bad and giving your kids a good laugh,

Growing up my parents/grandparents had their own version of Elf on the Shelf. It went by many names; the hand attached to Mama's arm, the switch on the Easter bush, or the one we were all to familiar with, the belt around Daddy's waist.

We found it difficult to misbehave when we knew these things were just around the corner.  Don't get me wrong we got into mischief, all kids do.  It never seemed to be a week that went by that one of my brothers wasn't getting a "whipping" or being disciplined in some way. I was always  better behaved than them two, but I still got into a few mishaps every now and then.

Today it seems that we see more and more children getting into trouble. I don't just mean a little trouble, I am talking pulling jail time, hurting others and even killing people. The world has become a very dangerous place to live in. I am convinced if we had more of that discipline from my childhood right now the world would be a better place.

I guess if you want your Elf on the Shelf have one, but don't let him/her take the place of good old fashioned discipline.

"That's my 'two-cents worth', what's yours?" 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Do they really grow up too fast?

I have often heard people say that kids grow up too fast.  I never really understood that saying until I had children of my own. It amazes me how quickly my girls have grown up. It seems like just yesterday that I was at the hospital having Grace and in just a little over a month she will be 16.  I can honestly look back and say that the years have went by very fast. I think about the fact that in two years she will graduate and head off to college (she wants to be a forensic anthropologist). Thankfully we have one of the top schools of Anthropology just 45 minutes away so she can always be close to home.

I had a lady ask me once did I not think that our kids grow up fast, I said "Sure they do, but I see things a little differently now than I used too."  When I think back to when my children where first born I imagined all the great things that their lives would hold. I could see them growing up, going to college, marrying and having children of their own. In my mind those days were so far away, but as I have learned those days do come quickly.

My ideas changed after my oldest daughter was diagnosed with Cancer two years ago. It was the scariest news I had ever gotten.  Let me just say that not knowing if your child will live or die gives you a whole new way of looking at life.  All those dreams and plans you had for them seem so far away. I remember wondering how in the world I would continue to live if she died.  I remember thinking that we had lost so much already, would God really take our oldest child from us.  I remember feeling lost, heartbroken and just flat out broken.  Each day was a challenge to hold it all together, I struggled in trying to keep everything "normal". It was so important to make life try to continue on just as it had been. Thankfully today we are celebrating her being in remission for 2 years.  Due to this scare I can honestly say that all I want is for my children to grow up. I always her people talk about keeping their babies little and I just long to watch mine live.  Having lost 3 babies and then having a child face a terminal illness really changes you.  What I used to see as my children leaving us behind I now see as the future. I see them going places and doing amazing things for themselves and other. I want to watch them grow and create lives of their very own. I want to see them live through the good and the bad, but always keep their faith in God, knowing he is always with them.  I want for them to live everyday to the fullest and never stop dreaming.

Sometimes I just sat and watch them, remember when they were little and wonder what the future holds for them.  I hope and pray for each of them happiness, success and a lifetime of good things, but I also pray that I have giving them what they need to handle the bad times when they do come, because bad times will come.

I guess the question still remains, "Do they really grow up too fast?" I have to say in my opinion, I am just glad they grow up.

"That's my 'two-cents worth', what's yours?"

Friday, December 11, 2015

I'll be home for Christmas

I absolutely love Christmas songs! I love listening to them as I decorate and wrap presents.  Having those songs playing in the background as I go about my Christmas errands makes the season brighter. As I was driving my oldest daughter to school yesterday we were listening to a Christmas cd and heard the song, "I'll be Home for Christmas". It was a quiet morning ride and I really had the chance to listen to the words of that song. 

    I'll Be Home for Christmas
    I'll be home for Christmas
    You can plan on me
    Please have snow and mistletoe
    And presents on the tree
    Christmas Eve will find me
    Where the love light gleams
    I'll be home for Christmas
    If only in my dreams
    I'll be home for Christmas
    You can plan on me
    Please have snow and mistletoe
    And presents on the tree
    Christmas Eve'll find me
    Where the love light gleams
    I'll be home for Christmas
    If only in my dreams
    As you can see this song is about someone who is away from their family at Christmas time. They long to be with their family and all the others things they are missing.  It is about someone who may not get to be home physically, but will be with their family in their dreams
    Can I just say that I am really feeling this song. I am not saying that I won't see my family this year, exactly the opposite. I live within a 15 mile radius of all my family,except one sister-in-law that is 10 hours away. What I mean is that I am dreaming of being home and by home I mean Heaven.  When I heard this song I automatically begin to think about Heaven being my eternal home. I thought about how someday we will be there. I think of how it is a place where our loved ones live. That the love light always gleams there, Jesus is that light.  I think about how it might just be snow there for the people who really like that type of weather.( Personally I hope it feels about 72 degrees all the time). I don't know if there will be mistletoe there, but I do know that flowers will grow there never to fade or die.  I know that the greatest present ever giving, Jesus Christ,will be there. I miss my family that have gone on so much and I wish we could have spent another Christmas together. As I stand here and look up at the sky, I know that my home is just beyond those stars. I also know that "I'll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams."
    "That's 'my two-cents worth' what's yours?" 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

November 2015 Challenge: Ready or not Christmas is coming!

November 1, 2015:
Since I started homeschooling this year it has really put a damper on me being ready for Christmas. I am always the one in the group who is 99% finished with everything by the time November rolls around. Well this year has been totally different. I no longer have the free time to run to the store without the kids and pick things up. I have to wait until after the kids are in bed to order online and then I have to be quick to hide it when it arrives.  Sometimes my kids can be so nosy. Thankfully they have gotten old enough to keep secrets so that I can shop for one of them with the other around. I can already see that this month is going to be a trying and hectic one. That being said I have decided that this months challenge is going to be to have all my Christmas decorations put up and 3/4 of my presents bought and under the tree by the end of the month! It sounds crazy to me! In fact, as the old saying goes,  I may have biting off more than I can chew! I guess there is only one way to find out. Lets get this challenge started.

Sunday November 22, 2015:  I am almost all the way through this month and fortunately I  have gotten a few things done. I was able to get my tree set up today, but no ornaments or other decorations done. I have almost completed shopping for my girls, but have nothing for my husband. Next week is Thanksgiving and Black Friday shopping. I have my list all made and am ready to maybe get all of it taking care of.

Challenge update:
November has come and gone and my challenge was not a success, well I guess it was a partial success. Here is my breakdown of things I actually got accomplished.
1. I did manage to get the inside decorations completely done.
2. I was able to get about 3/4 of my list taking care of (some of them have to wait until December, they are baked goods).
3. I was also able to order part of our Christmas cards and am ready to start sending them out.
4. Almost everything I have bought is wrapped and under the tree (minus the gifts still being shipped and the fact I have ran out of gift bags.)
5. I did get the mailbox decorations and the outdoor star lights on the trellis all put up.

All in all I guess I did pretty good for the month. I still have a few gifts to buy, wrap and bake. I still have a small amount of outside decorating to do (it has been raining here for two days and I have had two sick kiddos to look after).  In honesty I have really not been looking forward to Christmas this year. I guess it could be the feeling of being stressed out by all there is to do or the fact that I just feel the loss of my loved ones not with us so keenly this time of year. Maybe it is a combination of both, I don't know. I just know I feel the struggle this year of being in the spirit. I try to remind myself each day what Christmas is all about. Really all that matters is that we remember to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of Jesus our Lord.

In the gospel of Luke we can read of what Christmas really is about.

Luke 2:1-20King James Version (KJV)
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

I can say with a certainty that Christmas is more and it doesn't come from a store if we can see it that way maybe, just maybe, our hearts will grow three sizes too.

"That's my 'two-cents worth', what's yours?"