Friday, September 19, 2014

Savannah Starts KINDERGARTEN!

My sweet Vannie.  Only 5 years old.  How is it time to start school already?!  I understand why people say times flies by...  It really does, especially when you're a mom.  The days can be so long, but the years truly pass so quickly.  I am so thankful to have stayed home with you, playing and teaching and talking with you. I was able to hear your silly songs, watch you learn how to hold a pencil correctly, and recognized it when you actually read your first word...  it was "cat." :)
 Through the Lord's guidance, I came to see my role in your life through kindergarten..  as your very own teacher. :))  I never would have dreamt it up... ever.  The Lord is so good, though.  He knows what we need better than we know ourselves.  He knew this would be what was best for you AND for me. He has put this overwhelming excitement and passion in my heart... I get to be your teacher for your first year of school!!!  This is going to be SO FUN, VANNIE!!!  :))))
Just so that you can go back and read it one day, here is the link to how Jesus showed me that this is what He had for us...  All we have to do is trust and obey!!

The night before the first day of school, August 10, Daddy cooked up a delicious celebratory dinner...  Grilled chicken tacos and spanish rice!!

And of course, we needed a chocolate dessert! :))

Andrew even helped cook... cute lil' bbq dude!

The night before your first EVER day of school!

Ha!  I think you were just as excited (and maybe as nervous?) as I was!!

Monday, August 11, 2014:

Your brothers were so excited, too!!  I don't know if they really even understood what was going on, but they knew it was BIG!  :))

We even made a sign at the last minute together because of course, we needed it!!

How did you get so grown up??

 I can't tell you how proud I am of you, Savannah, and of this big day!!
(And y'all!  God is so good, I just had to add this in.  As I was outside taking pictures, my neighbor was walking down the road and saw me.. she got SO excited for me and told me she had just finished homeschooling in May.. her twin sons were now enrolled in college.  Just as we were about to head inside and start our very first day, both excited but so anxious, my neighbor left by saying, "Welcome to the best years of your life."  I could have cried!!  Only God could have sent her at that exact moment to say, "This is it.  This is where I have you.  I will take care of everything."  Ahhhh,  I have goosebumps!!  Our God is a living, breathing, all-knowing God, y'all!!  He is AMAZING and oh, so good!!!

We then went inside and began with the Bible!  No procedures, no lists of expectations, no scope and sequence discussions... just me, my children, and the Bible at our dining room table.  It wasn't fancy, but it was beautiful.  

After talking and reading about the first day of Creation (we even went into Grant's room, made it super dark, and then said, "LET THERE BE LIGHT!" as we tore open the curtains, switched on the lights and shined our flashlights at each other, ha!  They LOVED it!!!), we celebrated our first day by cooking together... a homemade cookie cake, of course.

You beautiful little school girl!

We couldn't wait.  We had to celebrate immediately... with giant, warm slices and cold cups of milk.
What a wonderful first day! :))

The homeschool curriculum I am using is absolute perfection.  I know they say no curriculum is perfect, but this one actually is. :))  I am using My Father's World and as an elementary school teacher, these are the lesson plans of my dreams!  Each week is themed and everything - our Bible lesson, books, math, recipes, games... everything connects, correlates, reinforces, and develops the theme!  Its part Charlotte Mason, part Classical, if you've looked up different homeschool approaches.  It's amazing and just the way I discovered it shows the Lord's hand at work!

(My sister in law, Mandy, who also was led to homeschool, got into a conversation with someone at a bookstore... whose sister was in TIME magazine for the way she homeschooled her two extraordinary sons.. with the MFW curriculum.  Mandy texted me all about it and I was sold!)

 I looked it up and was amazed.  This was it.  We tried the Horizons curriculum for awhile earlier this year as a practice run, but  as one wise woman told me, "There's just too much good stuff out there to stick with something that isn't working!"  That was one of the best pieces of advice I've been given!  17 workbook pages in a row, placing diacritical marks over vowels (Vowels...??  What's a vowel at 4 years old?!) just wasn't going to work for us!!  However, living what we learned - breathing it, singing it, playing it, touching it, DOING it - now that was something that would work.  Staying home and making cookie cakes together as we talked about God and the first day of the world...  that was even better. :))

Thursday, September 18, 2014

I Couldn't Leave These Out!

I know it's going to feel like you're seeing double (or quintuple!) but while we were in Gatlinburg, we passed by Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum and while we didn't tour it, we did see this funny suit sitting outside and duh, everyone needed their picture in it!!  :))) Enjoy!

Here's Rylie:


Hahaa, Hezzy!!



All the little children freaked out when they saw this!!!
A Baby Herbie!!!!!!!!

Those were the last pictures from Gatlinburg and I just couldn't leave them out!  Here are just a few shots of life when we returned home!
Here are the little children, ready for church!

Mommy and Me Zoo Time!

And Tuesday night bowling with the besties! :))  Andrew even got to bowl one!

Sweet, sweet days with my sweet, sweet family!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Wrapping Up in Gatlinburg!

On our second-the-last day, we got up early and made it to the Pigeon Forge Trolley!!  We rode into Gatlinburg on it and the kids were absolutely amazed!!!  We compared it to the trolley on "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood" and the kids loved not having to buckle up!!!  What a fun surprise!!

Hezzy, Kate, and Andrew just hanging with the Gatlinburg Bear!

The two that made all of this possible!!  THANK YOU SO, SO VERY MUCH!!!

Exploring in one of the MANY candy shops...

Hoorayyyyy!!  Welcome to Gatlinburg!

A car that's JUST Andrew's size!  Perfect!!  

Did I mention that poor Callie got stung by a wasp.. in the face?!  Poor sweet baby had a swole-up face the last few days.. but Mom's world-famous cinnamon bread and drinks from a downtown coffee-shop helped things to start looking up!

We are a crowd everywhere that we go..  :))

You know that famous Gatlinburg taffy that they make in the Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen??  The one where you can watch them make the entire candy from start to finish from the window??  It's amazing and let me tell you... the kids were AMAZED.

The bakers even came to the window and passed out Key Lime taffy samples to the cutest little tourists!

Poor Vannie had to sit in the stroller for most of our trip through downtown Gatlinburg.. even though she wasn't complaining.  Haa!!

She did jump up, however, when she saw this 'horsey!!!!"  She knew Grammie would love this one..

Soooo...  we saw this on the sidewalk and of course all of the little children needed to stick their faces in the circle. It wasn't until later that I realized that the sign read "All Sauced Up in the Smokies..."  They meant barbeque sauce though, right?!  ;))
Here is Rylie:

CowLips..  as Uncle Wadie calls her! Haha!

Andrew Paul:



And Savannah:

Pops with Hezzy and Baby Kate!

Grammie and Grant matched!!!!

Andrew found a prize...
and it's still waiting for him in Tennessee! ;)

Okay, so of course we had to visit the Pancake Pantry... it was Tennesse's first pancake house and everything is still made from scratch and cooked in REAL butter.  Umm, if that's not screaming "BRINKERS!" then I don't know what is! It was pancakes and sandwiches of all kinds and of course, everything looked and smelled and sounded delicious!

It was PACKED, so we had to split up... but it was fun to watch everyone and see what everyone else was ordering!  (Or am I the only one who does that...??)  Savannah and Brother got the "Bears in the Snow" pancakes... seriously?!  How cute!!

Hahahaa, Brother clearly was loving his!

Wadie got pigs in a blanket...  Pancakes wrapped around sausages!  He loved it!

I, incredibly, did NOT get pancakes.  There was an ad on the side of the menu stating that this sandwich... the Dutch Diplomat, had won a national award as one of the ten best sandwiches of the year!!!  Of course, I had to try it!!  It came with heaps of ham, turkey, cheeses, and trimmings.. along with pickled cucumbers and onions, fresh potato chips, and a three bean salad!!!  Should I be embarrassed that I ordered..and ate.. more food than Wade??  Haa!!  It. Was. Delicious.  While I will say that I think Wade's sandwiches are PERFECTION and this one couldn't touch his, it was quite a yummy experience!!  

After a wonderful time of exploring the city, we rode the trolley home and snuggled down in our cabin for our last night altogether..  Sweet Mandy even made Kurt, Kate, and me a birthday cake to celebrate with!!!

Our last morning waking up in the mountains, Pops left this note for everyone on the coffee pot.  Heather had had a headache the whole day before from NOT having caffeine!  So we felt there should be a giant label on the coffee that this was DECAF... and that she should begin the hunt for Tylenol early on. :))

Aunt Mandy and Callie making breakfast together!!!

We decided to lay low for our last day and spend the afternoon playing in the creek near our cabin.  Since Savannah couldn't get her knee wet because of the stitches, Grammie and Pops took her, Grant, and Kate for one more ride through Cades Cove (since our last trip there had ended so abruptly!).  Here are a few pictures they they sent to us!  Thankfully, they had a wonderful time with NO injuries! Hooray!!

They even found horses!


Meanwhile, we waded out into the creek!!

Beautiful Mandy and Luke!

Sweet Kurtie decided that we all needed to be baptized in the creek... so he held us all down while the others DOUSED us.  I tried to hide behind Heather, the camera, the fact that I'm pregnant.. all to no avail!!  We simply ALL had to be held underwater for a few minutes while everyone else laughed and sprayed us!  Hahahaha, it was an absolute blast!  We had originally started picking up rocks and chunking them at each other, so getting held underwater was infinitely safer. ;)  Here is everyone after... soaking wet, cold, and having an absolute blast! 

On our way back... look what we ran into!
A WILD TURKEY!!!!!!!!!

TWO WILD TURKEYS!!!!!!!  So fun!!

Minutes before the Sharbonos and Kurt and his family pulled out to start the drive back, we gathered together in the living room, as we did every night, for Bible story and family discussion about our day.  We all had had SUCH a wonderful was simply the best.

  There was a cowboy hat there that doubled as a guest book... and here is Jen, signing our name, marking our time we had spent there.
Brinker Bash 2014
Proverbs 3:5,6

Cowgirl Sadie!

The two seconds Grant kept this on...

Locking up and heading south.

Mom and Dad, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for a most wonderful week in Gatlinburg!!!  What a treat it was to get away and spend time all together, hiking, shopping, cooking, playing.. IN THE MOUNTAINS!!! There was so much that I didn't get a picture of.. like going to the Moon Pie store that sold every flavor of Moon Pies possible, and the Book Warehouse that was pretty much in a basement, and the crazy packed Walmart that we visited every single day, ha!, and the platter of Chick-fil-a nuggets that were the best things we had ever had since we were starving and traumatized from Van's stitches, and the boys' games of pool, and the way Mandy washed and dried and folded everyone's laundry, and Jen's homemade rolls and Kurt's smoker with the best meats ever coming off of it everyday, and Heather's shoe that is forever lost somewhere in the Smokies, and how we discovered stairs are the greatest entertainment for 11 children in one cabin, and the bottomless cups of coffee and hot chocolate... ahhhh, you guys gave us incredible memories and we will be forever thankful!!  You two are the best parents in all the world.  Godly, generous, kind, wise... We all want to grow up to be just like YOU!
 I love you both!!!!  Thank you so, so much again!

About Me

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From childhood friends to high school sweethearts, and now newlyweds and brand-new parents, Wade and I can only thank Jesus for His incredible blessings. Our three children are the ULTIMATE gifts from God and we pray that our lives glorify Him. He is our everything.