Christmas part 2

Each year we spend the second half of Christmas break in Pennsylvania with Tom’s family.  We all meet up at his mom and Will’s house for a few days. One day is dedicated to having “Christmas”. The kids get to open presents from Will, Aunt Shelly and Aunt Kim.   This also gives them some games and toys to play with while we are there. Wilson got a chess set so we played a lot of chess over those few days. He beat us most games. 

We also like to bring the Wii for the kids and Alexis to play (of course, we have to play some too.).  This keeps my kids entertained so that they don’t sword fight in the house or jump all over the furniture. Technology definitely has it benefits and uses…..

One thing that we did differently this year was to go to trivia at Al’s pizza where Shelly was hosting the trivia that night. I love trivia night and everyone seemed to enjoy it as well.  It was fun to go out together and have something to rally around. We invited Tom’s cousins, Jenny and Mike, to go with us. They came in handy when there was a matching question about ten famous law cases, since they are both lawyers. Yep! We won first place….which wasn’t too hard since we had two lawyers and Will on our team…and there were only four teams playing that night.  BUT, we still won!

The icing on the cake was the snow. We woke up the first morning to an inch of snow on the ground. An inch of snow isn’t much to most, but to us, it is as good as a foot. The kids bundled up and rushed out to build a snowman. I was thankful that Tom grabbed some mittens at the last minute before we left our house back in NC.

The snowman…..

I was the target of most of the snowballs….

It is always fun to see Tom’s family.  We may not get to see them as often as we see my family, we always has a great time together.  Will is always such a gracious and patient host.  He lets us completely invade his quiet home and never complains about the mess or the noise.  Thanks Will!

Christmas break. Part 1

I was just as excited as the kids were to begin Christmas break. We only did a few subjects during December anyway, but i needed a mental break from teaching.  We ended school on December 21st, the day Doug and his boys arrived. Here is a quick glimpse at all of the Chrismas fun….

We spent Christmas Eve at Little Church, ate some Love Feast buns, sang songs, and got our family picture next to the Christmas tree. 

Of course, the kids had to be in the Christmas play at church. My sweet Wise Man….

And shepherd….

Next we made some art. After Gabriel found out that I made Jackson Pollock splatter paintings with my kids he wanted one as well. Being the awesome aunt that I am, I went to Michaels to buy more canvases, pulled out the tarp and paints again, and let the kids make another huge mess in the front yard (I still haven’t posted about us splatter painting the first time yet. Oops). 

Doug and his kids stayed with us for Christmas eve dinner…..

Christmas morning was full of excitement. Wilson woke up at 4:00am and began to open his stocking that we hung on his bed. Thankfully, he woke me up to say “thank you” and I promptly put him back into bed. Tom and I finally got up around 8:00 and went to open presents with the kids. 

Miller and his three gifts. Miller would be perfectly content with any gift that he received. This year our neighbor offered to  give us his old fooze ball table which we in turn gave to Miller for Christmas.  He loved it!  

After unwrapping presents, we headed over to my Aunt Lisa’s house for our usual brunch.  This is one of my favorite holiday traditions.  At 10:00am we stop what we are doing, get into the car with our pajamas still on, and go to eat breakfast with our Charlotte family. I love it!   Here is the whole gang (Toms dad was taking the picture)…..

Believe it or not, but later on that day we all got together again at my parents’ house for dinner.  It was the longest 24 hours, and I was exhausted by the end of the day, but I felt so blessed.  I truly have the most wonderful and supportive family. I know that I am loved by them and it is easy to see that we enjoy being together. I went to bed that night thanking God for his many blessings. 


Once again, we spent Thanksgiving over at my mom’s house with all of the Wilson family and other friends.  Each year it seems that more and more people are added to the list of invitees.  We truly believe in the saying, “The more the merrier”, and it would be hard to think that we could even get anymore merrier.  :)

The day is filled with all of the usual American traditions:  turkey, excessive amounts of food, family, socializing, and football.  The kids all play on the trampoline, the bounce house and run around the yard.  It is a great time for all of the cousins to see each other.  Although Brad and Mary live in Charlotte, we don’t get to see them very often (they live a whopping 25 minutes away). Here are a few pictures of the festivities…..

This is part of the family getting ready to dig in!  We named a few of the many things that we are thankful for: family, health, new baby of the way for Brad and Mary, etc.

Julie, Grace, Maddie and Faith…

This year my Great Aunt Ann and her family joined us for thanksgiving. I haven’t seen her since my wedding and I don’t ever remember meeting her son and his family.  After lunch, some family pulled out old pictures of our relatives from long ago. Ann helped identify everyone while doug entered it all into We are all fascinated by our heritage and this really helped us to put it in order. 

David, Aunt Ann, Alan, me, Steve, doug and Lisa. 

Another successful and happy thanksgiving.  I am so blessed to have such a loving and supportive family. We all love each other and enjoy getting together. It isn’t a thing we dread, but something that we all look forward to each year. Thank you Lord for such a blessing. 

What a weekend!

There are two aspects to this weekend that need acknowledgment:

1.  The boys went to Maryland with my parents for the weekend. Easiest weekend ever!!  All weekend Tom kept saying, “This is what it would be like to have one kid. So simple and quiet.”  It was weird not having three kids in the house, but so easy. Did I mention that it was easy?  We also had the realization that we should cut ourselves some slack when we are tired or stressed out. Life is hard with three young kids and we need to recognize that more often. We have forgotten what life was like before kids:  easy. 

2.  Faith had a slumber party on Friday night to celebrate her ninth birthday. We had ten girls over for crafts, a piñata, pizza and cake. Six of them slept over. It is amazing how well little girls can get along, be polite, and entertain themselves for hours. It was the exact opposite of Wilson’s Nerf Gun party a few weeks ago. Haha. I loved seeing the excitement that Faith had in planning this party and celebrating with her friends.  I would have another slumber party anytime. Of course, we did it the easy way – pizza for dinner, ice cream cake, and I bought Lucky Charma for breakfast so that I didn’t have to cook. Brilliant move on my part. What kid doesn’t like Lucky Charms?  Here are some pictures of Faith and her friends doing crafts, piñata, and having a dance party/contest….

Homeschool Retreat, Asheville

Months ago I felt the Lord telling me to go to a homeschool retreat in Asheville.  I saw the information about it on a Charlotte Facebook page that I subscribe to.  I only saw the information once, but it plagued me and I eventually had to do some research to find the information again.  I knew that I had to go to this retreat.  I didn’t know anyone else going, but I knew that I needed to be encouraged and meet other homeschool moms like myself.

The weekend finally arrived and it more than met my expectations.  A fellow homeschooler, named Heidi St.John, who of course has seven children, led the weekend.  She was very funny, very real, and preached Jesus all weekend.  I loved her!  I realized that almost all other homeschool families are crazy like we are, have complaining kids, switch curriculums, threaten to send their kids back to school, and pray daily for God to see them through this time in life.  I shared woes with other moms who understood exactly what I was going through and we could all laugh about it together.  I left with the realization that:

1- I need to read to my kids more.  Wilson loves to be read to and if that is all we get done somedays, then so be it.  They will be fine.

2 – I need to depend on the Lord more, read His Holy Word, and let God be my guide and strength. I am gotten a bit slack in my Bible studying over the past year or two.  I have done the bare minimum and checked it off my list, but I haven’t truly leaned on the Lord to get me through my days.  The Lord is the one who told me to homeschool and I need to trust that He is going to get me through it.

3 – My main job is to disciple my kids.  They will learn to read, write and do math.  That will happen, but will they learn to trust Jesus as their Lord and Savior?  Will they know that I lean on the Lord?  The verse…….came up a few times over the weekend and it was very convicting.  If the student becomes like the teacher then am I being the teacher that I want them to become?  Right now,no.  I am yelling too much and understanding too little.  I kept the kids at home so that I could enjoy them more, but I am beginning to enjoy them less.  It isn’t all their fault, some of it is mine.

4 – I need to scrap some of the curriculum I have and combine efforts in order to get more subjects into one lesson.  ex. copy scripture which helps with spelling, handwriting, and their Bible memory verse for CBS.

Sea Life Aquarium

Did you know that there is an aquarium at Concord Mills?  Well, there is. Last month I found out that they were going to have a homeschool week with discounted prices so I put it on our calendar for our first field trip.  In preparation for our trip we studied marine animals for a few weeks. It was best part of our homeschool for two weeks. We all really enjoyed learning about sharks, sea horses, sting rays, eels and other fish. Wilson, in particular, really  enjoyed having me read to him each day. I leaned a lot about how he learns through this study. We will have to do more focused learning like this one. 

The aquarium is small but was enough to entertain us for a few hours. The best part was seeing the kids excitement when they saw a fish that we had studied before hand. Their eyes would light up. It was inspiring.  We each had a favorite part of the aquarium. Mine was the giant tank that we could walk through and see sharks, Rays and fish swimming above us. 

Wilson loved the six foot Moray Eel. That was his favorite fish that we studied and he was excited to see it in person. 

Faith liked the tour that went upstairs above the giant tank. She enjoyed seeing the sea tutle and looking down into the water. 

Miller’s favorite part was the moon jelly fish and their corresponding lights.    With the turn of a button the whole tank would change colors and so would the jelly fish. Very cool.  

The aquarium even had a small playground in it which gave the kids a place to run around an me a place to sit down.  The aquarium had a focus on the conservation of sea life, which really hit home with wilson. He was upset that seahorses and Sharks were being killed for sport, soup or medicine. I agree with him.  This trip and our study of fish was good for all of us. I could have fun learning along side of the kids and then we could take a trip that reinforced the learning. It was the perfect homeschool scenario. Now, only if all of our days were this easy and fun…..

Disney World

One of the best parts about homeschooling is that we can go on vacation any time we want.  I have been wanting to take the kids to Disney World for a few years and my wish finally came true (as wishes do at Disney).  I was able to magically get tickets to the princess breakfast at Cinderella’s castle on September 8 so this pretty much dictated when we would take our vacation to Disney.  It turned out to be the absolute perfect time to go to Disney World.  We left for Florida the morning after Labor Day while everyone else was heading to work and to school. We left early that morning and drove all day until we reached our hotel around 5:00pm.  I booked rooms at the Caribbean Beach Resort (which was one of the cheapest hotels that slept 5 people).  It was perfect.  There was a decent pool next to our building, but only a short walk away was the giant resort pool.  We spent the whole first night swimming there and then they showed a movie outside near the pool.  The kids stayed up late every night and were up early the next morning ready to go again.

Because Disney is super expensive and I hate waiting in lines, I decided that our first Disney vacation was plenty long with two days in the park.  Honestly, I don’t know how people do more days than that.  Tom and I walked twelve miles the first day and a eleven the second.  We were wiped out.  Of course, because we were only there two days we were there when the park opened and stayed until they kicked us out each night.  I loved it!  I didn’t think that I would enjoy Disney World as much as I did.  I truly did not want to leave.  It didn’t hurt that we had booked early enough to get free dining (which is available only during sept and oct) and there were zero lines.  And when I say “zero lines”, I literally mean that there were zero lines for 80% of the rides at both Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios.  

The main goal for our first was to do some Jedi Training at Hollywood studios. It was totally worth the effort. I was psyched that they got to fight Darth Vader. I think I was more excited to see Darth than they were. In my book, he is the ultimate bad guy. I think I was a bit star struck….

After doing each ride twice, we headed over to the Magic Kingdom for the rest of the day (it was open until 11pm).  We walked our 12 miles, snacked, ate dinner, did more rides, and eventually left completely exhausted at 10:00pm. I couldn’t take another step. Tom even warned the kids not to do anything to set me off. I “was on the edge.” Lol. 

The next morning Faith and I woke up early to go to the Princess Breakfast at Conderella’s castle.  It was adorable. It seriously brought me to tears to see Faith so excited about this and I was so thankful that I could give it to her. (With the Lord’s help, of course.). We met many princesses and got a photo and signature for each. 

The rest of the day was filled with ride, junk food and family fun together.  We watched another light show at Hollywood studios that night and then hit the pool.  It was the vacation the we didn’t want to end. The next day we went to Amelia Island and enjoyed the beach before we headed back home. It was an amazing escape from reality for our family and I would do it again in a heart beat.