Sunday, January 08, 2012

First Day of School 2011-2012

In 2010 we felt like the Lord had led us to homeschool our children. We felt like we were called down this path again for the 2011-2012 school year. In order to be 100% transparent I must admit that there are moments when I think WHAT IN THE WORLD ARE WE DOING. Homeschooling is tough. I have grown in a lot of ways, and still need to grow in a lot more. Despite how hard it can often be, I really do love having them home. My children are amazing people and I enjoy watching them grow and learn right in our kitchen!

We started school a little earlier then the rest of Virginia this year. We are really trying to get through our curriculum as best as we can BEFORE Baby Boy #6 arrives. It has meant a ton of hard work but the boys have been embracing it. Here are some pictures from our first day of school!

Sam ~ 5th grade ~ 4 feet 4 inches ~ 63 lbs.
Currently working through:
Sonlight Core E, the 2nd half of American History
Easy Grammar
Sequential Spelling
Wordly Wise Vocabulary
Saxon Math 5/4 (DONE!)
Saxon Math 6/5
Handwriting Without Tears
Apologia Anatomy (with Mrs. Teri)
Community Bible Study ~ Job/Hebrews/Galatians
Co-Op Classes: Quilting, Ancient History/Science, Lego Mindstorms

Ethan ~ 3rd grade ~ 4 feet 1.5 inches ~ 50 lbs
Currently working through:
Sonlight Core B (the first half of World History)
Easy Grammar
Wordly Wise Vocabulary
Sequential Spelling
Handwriting Without Tears
Saxon Phonics
Saxon Math
Apologia Anatomy (with Mrs. Teri)
Community Bible Study ~ Job/Hebrews/Galatians
Co-op Classes: Trip Around the World, Chess, Crochet/Embroidery

Gabe ~ 1st grade ~ 3 feet 10.5 inches ~ 44 lbs.
Currently working through:
Sonlight Core B (first half of World History)
Saxon Phonics
Saxon Math
Handwriting without Tears
Apologia Anatomy (with Mrs. Teri)
Community Bible Study
Co-op Classes: Trip Around the World, Chess, Art

Joel ~ PreSchool ~ 3 feet 2 inches ~ 33 lbs.
Local Art Classes
Community Bible Study
PreSchool Co-op Classes

Abby ~ PreSchool ~ A lady never tells her "stats"
PreSchool Classes at Co-Op

We found out a couple of weeks ago that we will be moving to Kentucky this summer. We are prayerfully considering where the boys would be best suited. I have been trying to keep all avenues open by applying to some magnet programs and reading tons of reviews of every county school we could possibly go to. We always said we would pray through every year of homeschooling with every child. I don't know what we will do next year but I do know that whatever we do my boys are awesome students with a thirst for knowledge!

Saturday, January 07, 2012


This picture of Abby pretty much sums up our trip to Kentucky this year! EXHAUSTING!!! BUT man oh man, did we have a great time! We started our trip by driving to my Mom and Dad's. It's only 10 hours to my Mom and Dad's house, 12 to Greg's Mom and Dad's, so we usually take a break in Louisville before heading to Halfway (where Greg's from). We had a great time in Halfway. We got in a lot of cousin time, lots of go carting, power wheeling, fishing, boating, water fun, Mammoth Cave, etc. We packed a lot into four days!! I guess we were too busy having fun that I forgot to bring out the camera this trip. I know there have been other trips where I forgot to take pictures at my Mom and Dad's so I guess it all evens out!

When we got to my Mom and Dad's, Mom had a huge list of things we could do. Everything from the pool to museums to the state fair. We decided this year we wouldn't waste a single day of their staycation and filled everyday to the brim. One of the first things we did was head to Holiday World! What a great place! Very clean, free sodas and a lot of fun!

Abby and Joel enjoyed the canoes!!

After Holiday World we made the trek up to the Creation Museum in Hebron, Kentucky. WOW, what a great place!! At first we were a little apprehensive about going. We weren't sure if it would just be some religiousy, whack job kind of place. I can assure you that it is not. The museum and surrounding grounds are BEAUTIFUL! The exhibits are extremely well done. The entire place is very clean and very kid friendly. We learned so much. I love going to museums with Greg. He is a natural teacher and the boys love listening to him explain things. A++++ experience! If you go to the museum, be sure to stop at the GAP factory store an exit or two up the road. It can be hit or miss, but I got a couple of great maternity shirts for a dollar a piece!

My sister was able to go on a lot of our excursions. My boys cannot get enough of her boys! Here Joel and Levi pose for a picture with a dinosaur. Can you believe that Joel is 14 MONTHS older then Levi. I need to feed my kids whatever she is feeding hers!!

Abby and Gigi!

Abby was pretty ticked that we didn't put her right on this dinosaur. She's quite the poser, huh?!

After going to Lakeside, the best pool EVER, and having a lazy day our last "fun" thing was the Kentucky State Fair. Here in Northern Virginia you don't hear a lot about the state fair but in Kentucky the state fair is a BIG deal. I actually heard one Mom tell another that the local schools were giving the kids one excused absence to go to the fair. Can you tell Kentucky is still an agriculture state!! LOVE IT! In this picture the boys were rolling their own bee's wax candle.

Of course no trip to the fair would be complete without milking a cow! If you have a keen eye, you might notice that in the last three blog posts Gabe has had on the same outfit. I promise he has others. This one must be one of his favorites!

Ethan and Gabe!

Greg enjoying a heart attack in a box Krispy Kreme burger. Yes, you read that right. A cheeseburger sandwiched between two Krispy Kremes. I did have a bite and it was pretty darn good! The food is by far my favorite part of the fair and the vendors did not disappoint. YUM!!!

Abby takes after her Mother in many ways, including her love of corn dogs!!

Ready to scoot around the police safety town!

After more memories then I could count we packed up our things and headed back to Virginia. I shed quite a few tears as we pulled out of my parent's neighborhood. Mom and I have plans to try to make our "staycation" an annuel event. The beauty of homeschooling has meant we can go back to Kentucky when all the Kentucky children are in school. It is awesome to enjoy Louisville, Bowling Green and the surrounding areas without huge crowds.

On the way back to Virginia we introduced the kids to Steak n Shake. It was a hit!!

Abby never misses a chance to dress up!


Gabe and Joel

Where's Sam?! Oh that's right, he was in the bathroom throwing up. No trip to Kentucky would be complete without someone throwing up! C'est la vie!

As we prayerfully put in our 300 choices for assignments we tried our best to get closer to "home". Greg and I love Kentucky and hate that we have been over 1o hours away for over 10 years. Hoping the Lord has plans to bring us closer soon. Until then, I can't wait until next summer!!!

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Joel is FOUR!!

Can you guess how old Joel was this year??? FOUR!!

On August 1, 2011, Joel turned FOUR! I have a really hard time fathoming this as I started this blog around the time I found out I was pregnant with him. I have blogged his entire life. It's crazy! If you want all the details of Joel's entrance into this world you can click here or here.

Birthdays are a big deal around here but we never have big parties. Who can afford elaborate parties these days, especially with 5.5 kids!! For the big 0-4 Joel requested an "army" theme. We've had a few army themes in our house, as you can probably imagine! When we lived in Kansas I had NO problem finding army themed birthday "stuff" but surprisingly it was rather hard to find suitable options here in our nation's capital. I normally make cakes for the kids but being in my first trimester with our sixth baby, I just didn't have the energy. I really talked up the excitement of getting a "store" bought cake and he was thrilled. It's all in the marketing people, all in the marketing! I had a heck of a time finding a tank cake, but of course Wegman's, my favorite grocery store, came through! The cake was pretty but tasted awful and cost a pretty penny! I'll be re-instituting making cakes in the future!! Joel had a great birthday! It's amazing how exciting kids can get over a few balloons, streamers, and party blowers, I'm glad we've set their expectations low *wink.

One of his gifts! A tool set with working drill!

Abby took her time setting up each army man "just right".

The Wegman's Cake

I just realized this picture is sideways....I'm too tired to switch it....please...just turn your head :)

Blowing out the candles!

Abby enjoyed the cake! Abby is Joel's BIGGEST fan! She can't get enough of that kid!

Eating cake is SERIOUS business!! No birthday is complete without a drinking straw necklace, courtesy of one of your older brothers!

Joel is almost 4 1/2 and could technically go to kindergarten next year! I know I say this with every birthday, but seriously, where has my baby gone???? Now for four things I love about my four year old:

1. Joel has THE funniest facial expressions. I cannot even describe how funny this kid is. Hilarious!
2. Joel is very responsible. He is very good about cleaning up after himself and takes good care of his stuff.
3. Joel loves to show his muscles, loves to punch the air as quick as he can and also loves to give "sauges" (massages).
4. Joel loves books! Clean out his bed and you are bound to find at least 20 books of all shapes, sizes and subject matter. He especially loves our "school" books. I can't wait for him to learn how to read!!

We love you Joel, pray for you daily and can't wait to see the godly man you will become!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Vacation in Hatteras

I started this post on November 13th....six weeks ago! Wow how time flies!! Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc., etc. got the best of me and I haven't been on the blog roll I was on. Oh well, here's to resolutions to stay consistent with blogging!!

In July we had the opportunity to go on vacation to the beach! We hadn't been in five years so we were all VERY excited. Joel and Abby had never seen the beach and Gabe was a baby the last time we were at the shore. Did y'all know my family carries the distinction of being some of the first settlers on Hatteras Island?! Crazy, huh?! My great grandfather, Dan Oden owned the general store "Oden's General Store", now called "Nedo's" (Oden spelled backward) and members of my family still own Oden's Dock, the Breakwater Motel, The Seagull Motel, as well as several other establishments and houses on the island. My mother spent months of every summer chilling on the outer banks and we made our fair share of trips there growing up as well. My middle name, before I changed it with marriage, was Oden so I always felt a special bond to my Outer Banks roots! Nowadays most of my great aunts and uncles have passed and few cousins have any idea who I am and vice-versa. One of my Great Aunts and her husband still have a house on the island. Every year my Mom's brother and his family spend a week there and this week we got to join them in a house owned by another cousin. It was such a blessing to have an almost free house to stay in and we had a great time!

The table in the kitchen had four chairs so Abby had a cozy seat on the floor!

The boys enjoying our first breakfast meal at the beach!! We never have pop tarts so they were SUPER excited. Check out that bank of windows!! They look right onto the "slash". AMAZING!!

A trip to Hatteras would not be complete without a ferry trip to Ocracoke Island. Here we are waiting for all the cars to load so that we can go feed the sea gulls! Does Ocracoke sound familiar??? The day we were there a little girl was bitten by a shark and it made national news. CRAZY!

This is me saying MO-SKEEEE-TOES!! The mosquitoes were INSANE this year. You couldn't walk outside without 50 or more landing all over you. That was my least favorite part of our trip!

Greg! So handsome!

Checking out the water and ALL the jelly fish. We lost count! Do you see our new Suburban there on the right? We found out in June that we were having another baby so when our 6.5 year old van needed over $2k in repairs we decided to take the plunge on a new ride. I love, love, love my new car. I know it's silly, but I really do!

Sweet baby girl and my 11 week belly!

I kind of prefer having the kids up at the top of the ship, enclosed. When we were down on deck I had visions of someone going overboard. My children get it honest. When we docked on the island Gabe said "shooowee, now I know for sure we aren't going to sink". We all knew exactly where the life jackets were on that thing! It also didn't hurt that the upper deck is air conditioned!

The beach!

Abby loved the beach. She wasn't a huge fan of the water but she played for HOURS in the sand!!

The rip tides in Hatteras are BRUTAL, hence the life jackets. The boys couldn't get enough of the water!

The boys had never seen the little arm covers older upholstered furniture has. Gabe thought they made great hats and of course Joel had to get in on the action!

Listening to the rangers give safety guidelines for going up in the lighthouse.

The Hatteras Lighthouse Isn't she a beaut!! One year when I was in high school we went to the lighthouse and my Mom struck up a conversation with an older park ranger. Turned out he had dated my grandmother when they were in high school, crazy huh!!

The handsome boys who were tall enough to climb the lighthouse.

The handsome (sad) boy who wasn't.

I was kind of relieved to have to stay with the younger two. Check out those steps, yikes!

The rangers were gracious enough to let us go inside and take a quick look.

This is what one looks like after sightseeing and beach combing all day. Even Dora is worn out!

Joel was exhausted too!

SEA LICE!! At least that's what my grandmother told me they were called. The rangers at the lighthouse disagreed with us but regardless we had a nice time digging for and playing with the little critters!

I'm not a fan of touching them. My boys are very brave!

Joel ~ one tough cookie....look at that face!

We caught hundreds of them!

Gabe, playing with his catch!

This kept them entertained for over an hour. Should have showed them how to dig for them the first day!

On our last day the boys completed their Junior Ranger badge. Here they are making an oath to keep the beach clean, or something like that! Great program! You should check it out at any National Park you might go to!

Sadly I didn't get any pictures of my uncle and cousins. We had a great time hanging out with them as well. My cousin Tracy is by far one of the funniest people I know! There is a really good chance we are moving this summer so I don't know that we will ever go back to Hatteras. It was a bittersweet trip knowing it could be my last time!