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It happens every fall.  Back-to-school means new supplies, new clothes, new schedules, new activities, new goals….new everything.  The back-to-school season is full of the promise of new beginnings and hope for a brighter future.  It’s when signing up for all things new looks really good on paper.  And, the calendar pages are clean, crisp, and ready to be written in.  And we get our pencils out and begin neatly filling in the little spaces.  We fill the pages with too many activities, but we honestly believe we can handle all of it.  The future looks bright.  The children are excited to try the next thing or revisit a seasonal sport or activity.  Everyone is having fun!

And then….two weeks later….STRESS!

We’re there.

We quickly become overcommitted.  I know this is where we will land.  Every. Single. Year.  And, yet, like most other parents in this country, we fall into the trap of believing more is better.  I do believe that “less is more”; therefore, logic would lead me to conclude that “more IS better”….but I think that can only be true if we really live by the “less is more” mantra.

Even though I get caught up in the hopeful feelings that arise with the newness of a new school year, I have always tried to limit my children to one activity at a time.  I have always said that’s our rule because I want to keep life more simple and stress-free.  While that is true, I also secretly limited them (and still limit them) to one thing at a time because it’s less expensive, less hassle for me, and less time running around.  Selfishly, I like my down time.  Not that I get a lot of down time, but simply being home without having to rush to a practice or rehearsal or event gives me peace that I don’t get when we are all running amuck.  And, even with the limit of one activity each, the schedule gets crazy.  The calendar gets messy and too full.   Life doesn’t always stay simple or stress-free.

Sometimes I feel a little guilty about not offering more to them…not allowing them to try more at once.  But, mostly I don’t because tonight I was hearing the world news in the background while I was grading school, and lets just say that we, in America, have more than enough.  Children don’t need to be enrolled in every extracurricular activity.  Children need love, boundaries, food, water, shelter, safety, security.  I’m not saying it’s bad to give them lessons or socialization with other kids.  I’m just saying, my perspectacles were on tonight when everyone began arriving home from their individual commitments.  As each different person or persons walked in the door, I could feel the stress barometer rising.  We spend so much time trying to run around to keep up with the busyness of life that we begin to get tired and worn down.  Tempers grow short, feelings get stepped on, and life can become more stressful than fun.

I think it’s important for us to take stock once in a while, especially when we are taking on more than is good for our souls or our peace of mind.  Keeping busying, working, learning, growing, and trying new things is fun and is part of our existence.  But, I think it’s equally important to learn to slow down, “smell the roses”, and know that it’s okay once in a while to do less instead of more.

 

Two weeks ago today my third son began his final year of high school as a public school student.  After nearly 21 years of being a parent, I went to my first Parent’s Night tonight .   Interesting.  So many thoughts.

First of all, I think going to high school is actually a great experience for him.  We had already taken home schooling as far as we could go with him….he has already taken 14 hours of college credit as well.  He could have easily gone to college early, but he would have always wondered about what could have been if he didn’t give soccer one last try at this level.  Of course, there are certain socialization experiences I would rather he not be exposed to, but I also trust him.  He was raised well,  he’s smart, and he knows right from wrong.  His foundation is strong, and I trust he will make good choices.

During the last two weeks, I have seen him leave early, come home late, go straight from school to his volunteer job and then to soccer practice.  I have watched him let go of his strict healthy diet and eat cafeteria and junk food because he is in survival mode and hungry all the time.  He cannot drive home to eat between events since we live too far away.  Until now, I had not seen him eat sugar or white flour since he was eight years old.  I keep wondering when it will all catch up with him.

After tonight, I realize the demanding schedule he is keeping.  I understand how hard he is working to achieve his goals, and I am proud of him for that.  I had no idea what Parent’s Night was; I just knew I was supposed to go.  I was thinking I could get in there, get out, get to the library and grocery store, fill up the van with gas, and done in time to pick up my littles from the theater.  But, no.  It was a highly structured event where we simulated our child’s school day schedule starting with period one.  And, we were released to go to the next period with the sound of the bell just as the kids are in their school day.  It took forever.  They had us meet in the auditorium for a bit and then follow our child’s daily schedule.  First of all, I had no idea what his schedule was.  And, even if I did, I couldn’t possibly find anything without a map and a GPS tracking device.  This school is HUGE!  At least I got my Fitbit steps in today.  After being directed to the Senior’s office (they have an office for each grade level and a separate campus for freshman) and obtaining a map and a copy of his schedule, we walked through his schedule in the same order he attends classes every day.  I can’t imagine what it was like for my son walking into this school for the first time, finding his way around, and figuring out how it all worked since he had never been to public school before in his life.  We did lose him once at Disney World when he was like seven, and he figured out how to find us.  So, I knew he could handle it. But after walking in circles in the long halls trying to find Hall D, then Hall C, then Hall E and so on, I reached a greater level of respect for the courage he had to even attempt this whole new world.

As a mom I worry about his health.  I worry about his safety.  I worry about his heart and his self-esteem.  I pretty much worry about everything.  I know.  I’m not supposed to worry.  I know.  But, I do, especially when I don’t know what’s going on….where he is, how he is, who he’s with, how his day went.  Often he comes home, eats, and goes to his room to study.  Most mornings I get a grunt from him (which means good-bye) as he leaves for school.  But, every once in a while he shares a bit of his day with me, and I listen hard because I want to know not only what he did that day, but how he is doing….how he is feeling….is he happy?  I think all moms just want their kids to be happy.

So, when those moments of sharing occur, I take note.  I found some of the observations he shared during the first week to be pretty interesting:

  1. When the bell rings, students stop whatever they are doing even if the teachers are in mid-sentence, and they pack up for the next class. Jordan thought it was rude to not let the instructor at least finish his thought.  I think he would still like to not be rude to his teachers, but I think he has now learned to hustle because those hallways are long and full, and it takes some effort to make it to the next class on time.
  2. Also, when the bell rings, the kids quickly emerge into the hallways.  He said when he first witnessed this, his first thought was that it looked like a sea of drunk toddlers.  The hallways become crowded with chaos as they all try to find where they are going….lots of stumbling and tripping and running…drunk toddlers came to his mind.
  3. School lunch was totally foreign to him….not only the “food” choices, but the process. On the first day when he asked a girl to help him with lunch, she said okay, but then quickly asked, “Now….why do you need help with lunch.” He replied, “I was homescooled all my life.” She put her hands on her chest and said, “That is so cute!”
  4. Study hall: Nobody really studies.  Period.  When he was choosing his classes, he didn’t know why he would need study hall.  I told him with soccer he would need time to do his homework.  Turns out they don’t do anything for that hour.  One kid does magic tricks, some kids make animal sounds, some discuss deep thoughts like how they pronounce some words incorrectly.  Basically, it’s “social hour”, not “study hall”.
  5. Sometimes chemistry lab goes into his lunch time.  I guess he was supposed to know that.  He didn’t.  Poor kid was hungrier than normal for a few days.
  6. They say the Pledge of Allegiance every day.  This is great, but ummm…. yeah, with our homeschool it’s something we always remember to do for a day or two or maybe a week or two when we start a school year.  And, it’s been a while since we had done it, so Jordan was a little lost.  This was new to him when a voice came over the loud speaker, everyone stood up and turned around, and started reciting.  He figured it out though.  I told you he was a smart boy.
  7. One day he sat down to eat lunch with some sophomores.  This, of course, is a faux pas in the hierarchy of grade levels in school.  They looked at him as though he were committing social suicide and asked, “Jordan, what are you DOING?  When he realized it was not considered proper etiquette to be eating with those in a lower grade he responded with, “Eating with the cool kids.”  That seemed to be an acceptable answer for them, but I don’t know if he has eaten with lower classmen again?

I look forward to hearing more about his days if and when he is in the mood to share.  In the mean time, I will hold him close to my heart, keep him in my prayers throughout the days, and hope that high school is all he hopes and expects it to be.  As for me, until tonight I had not walked through a high school schedule since 1984.  And, I sure am glad I don’t have to go to high school.  I know I would be hungry and lost and tired….all the time!  Bless his heart!

Ahhhh!  Back-to-school….the college edition of our story.  The final “First Day of School” post for this year.  I couldn’t be more proud of these boys!  Way back in time when my whole world was feeding, cleaning, teaching, playing, and praying with these sweet little boys I couldn’t even fathom the day would come when they would be grown and off to college.  I would always advise them to “save your money for college”, but the reality of that time actually arriving had not yet taken up permanent residence in my brain.  Apparently not theirs either….at least the “save money for college” part didn’t become real to them until they started realizing the cost of all of it.  Jay’s been living that reality for two years now, but it was nip and tuck until the last minute for Johnathan.  Phew!  He scraped enough together to at least get started on his college journey.

Two years ago, on August 20, 2012, my oldest headed off for his very first day of school.  I remember thinking how lucky I was to have that day delayed by thirteen years.  Like all the other kids going to school for the very first time, he had a backpack.  But, he was driving himself rather than getting onto a big yellow school bus because he was 18 instead of 5 years old.  Lucky me, I got thirteen extra years before I had to tearfully send my baby off to school for the first time.  Only mine wasn’t a baby anymore.  He was a young man, ready to conquer the world.  And the tears flowed not from me, but from his two youngest siblings.  Jeanae held it together better than Joseph, but the tears did flow as soon as he drove away on that August afternoon for his one and only class of the day.  Just imagine how his younger siblings would have acted if he would have been heading off to college for the whole semester instead of a few hours….

8:20:12 Jay, Joseph 1st day of college8:20:12 Jay hugs Jeanae goodbye8:20:12 Jay leaves for college8:20:12 Johnathan, Jacob, Joseph & Jeanae saying goodbye to Jay8:20:12 Jeanae after Jay left for college

This morning was a little bit of a different story.  Johnathan didn’t get the same attention, excitement and crowd of paparazzi taking photos of him on his first day of school.  The boys needed to head off early, and the littles were still sleeping as I took their photos.  My little girl did wake up and sleepily rush to the garage door as they were walking out the door for a quick good-bye hug.  No tears this time.  She knows they will come home; and she knows most nights Jay will be home to tuck her into bed…..she loves having him help tuck her in.

8:25:14 Jay & Johnahan 1st day of college8:25:14 Jeanae hugs Johnathan good-bye8:25:14 Jeanae hugs Jay good-bye8:25:14 Jay, Johnathan backpacks, lunches and ready to go8:25:14 Jay, Johnathan off to college

I have to admit I’m a little nervous for my Johnathan since it is his first day as a freshman.  I don’t remember being as nervous for Jay two years ago.  He was nervous enough for the both of us.  Jay is my analytical, overly-organized, highly-detailed and always prepared first-born son.  Johnathan?  Not so much.  While Jay is an auditory learner, Johnathan tends to be more of a visual learner.  He learns best by watching and observing.  He’s by far a much more relaxed personality….maybe too relaxed.  Time will tell.  He has been watching Jay do this college thing for two years….watching and learning, leaning and watching.  As I have been watching their different personalities as they have prepared for their first day of college this year I have been reminded of how clearly their distinct personalities were displayed when they were learning to ride bicycles back in the fall of 1999.

At the time, I had four boys: Jay (5), Johnathan (4), Jordan (2 weeks shy of age 3), and Jacob (10 months old).  For weeks…maybe months, I had been running behind Jay holding onto his bicycle trying to teach him how to ride.  Being the go-in-order type of personality I am, I didn’t even consider working with Johnathan, yet.  Jay was oldest, and I would teach him first.  Jay was trying to learn enough coordination to ride his bike.  No easy feat.  Coordination and Jay…..yeah, that’s a whole ‘nother story.  To this day, he still has a problem falling UP the stairs.

Anyway, every beautiful, warm Colorado fall day Jay and I worked on mastering his bike-riding skills.  He suited up with a helmet, knee pads, elbow pads, determination and concentration.  We would find the one flat spot near our house, and I would run behind while trying to find an opportunity to let go.  We did it over and over and over again, until finally on September 14, 1999, when at last he rode his bike without any help.  He did it!  There was much rejoicing and celebrating!  In my mind I was thinking, ‘Well, that’s good for this year….I’ll start working with Johnathan next spring.’  I guess I was thinking there would not be enough season left to teach Johnathan with as much time as it took to teach Jay.

I was wrong.  Two days later….on September 16, 1999….while we were all out in the driveway marveling at Jay’s newly learned skill, Johnathan hopped on his little green bike wearing no helmet, no pads and no shoes; and he began riding.  That was it!  No running behind him.  No hours of explaining and holding on and assuring him I would not let him fall.  No time spent kissing owies and applying band-aids to his knees.  He had been watching, processing, and learning.  He simply got on his little bike and rode down the driveway and kept going on the sidewalk.  Amazing!  Clearly, I did not see that coming.

A few days later I began thinking about how all their unique personalities were obvious through their riding styles.  Jay is always prepared, cautious, and organized.  Johnathan is usually laid back, observant, and thoughtful.  And, then there was Jordan.  He spent the rest of that fall, while the brothers gleefully rode their bikes up and down the driveway, pedaling fast and furiously on his tricycle, wearing cowboy boots and an ornery grin…..always aiming to cross in front of one of them at just the right time to cause them to crash.  Yes, his personality was also evident.  And, with sweet little Jacob being only 10 months old at the time, I originally thought I couldn’t possibly see his personality coming through during this time.  But, as I was remembering it today I think I did indeed see his personality already shining through.  He was happy and content to sit off to the side doing his own thing while his two biggest brothers rode their bikes and the third brother went out of his way to cause as much chaos and grief to them as possible.  Jacob is still like that today….always happy and content to be doing his own thing his own way.  But, he most definitely enjoys doing his thing with his own friends now.

So, after remembering the learning process with the bicycles and thinking through the journey Johnathan has taken to get to where he is today….I think he will do just fine.  He will do it his way, not Jay’s.  They will both do their own thing, their own way, and they will drive to campus every day together to find their individual paths.  I’m praying for a great year for all my children!

The pictures flash through my mind as though I’ve seen them before.  They are not actual photographs, but memories.  As hard as I try to pause them in my mind so I can get a better look, they disappear and move on as though the slide show in my memory is on an automatic timer.  Some of the memories and pictures in my head are vivid enough that I can see colors….the color green.  I can hear the laughter and joy from children….my siblings and myself.  And, I can smell and taste my Grandma’s Jelly Roll that my mom is making for the umpteenth time.  But, then it disappears before I can study it, before I can ask questions, before I know all the answers.  And, I’m left with the a feeling of fullness, knowing that I had a childhood some kids only dream of.  And, I’m also left with the emptiness that it is gone, taken too soon, and the only photographs that remain are the ones sifting through my memory so fast I can barely catch them.

Most of my childhood memories are blurry like this…some easier to remember than others.  What I wouldn’t give to be able to go back in time and ask questions, pay attention, or simply spend more time with my mom!  So many unanswered questions remain since she got sick and died before I was old enough to know I would want to have knowledge of such things later in life….big things and little things…..things as ordinary as How do you make Grandma’s Jelly Roll?  Luckily for me, some cousins of mine were wise enough to compile a cookbook filled with family recipes a few years back.  And, both of my mom’s sisters submitted recipes for Grandma’s Jelly Rolls.  There were a few other submissions for Grandma’s Jelly Rolls in the book, but I went straight to Aunt Frankie’s recipe.  If anyone would be making them the way Mom made them, it would be Aunt Frankie or Aunt Maggie.  It turns out both of their submissions were exactly the same, while the others were a bit different.  So, I found Aunt Frankie’s first, and went with that.

With the combination of Aunt Frankie’s submission of the recipe and my vivid, yet blurry, memories of watching my mom make them so many years ago, I was sure my daughter and I would be able to make the exact same beautiful, delicious jelly roll that my mom made time and time again for us.  My daughter had asked to make jelly rolls for her new food night….not because I told her about my own memories, but because she had read about jelly rolls in an Amelia Bedelia book.  When she asked for them, I knew I wanted to make my Grandma’s Jelly Rolls.

So, we made them.  Sort of.  The smell was there.  The taste was there.  Each kid had seconds, except Joseph…he had thirds.  They had never tasted anything quite like Grandma’s Jelly Rolls.

But, they weren’t pretty.  This is where I wish I could ask Mom how she did it.  I can see her doing it for a split second in my mind….and then the visions disappears.  But I don’t know if she let them cool before spreading the jelly?  Neither of my aunts wrote that in their recipe submissions.  Did she flip it out of the pan onto a cutting board or flat surface to cool?  Did she roll them in the pan?  How did she get them to look so amazingly beautiful each time?  This is the only photo I got of our first attempt tonight.  This was the last piece left waiting for Jacob to claim it before Joseph ate it, too.

8:24:14 Grandma's Jelly Roll

While my children loved the flavor, I don’t want this to be the picture in their heads when they remember making Grandma’s Jelly Rolls.  We will try again.  Sadly, I can’t ask Mom.  Oh, how I wish I could!  But, I will keep trying.  I will read the other submission, try to use a little common sense and remember as much as I can.  It may take a few more attempts, but somehow I don’t think they will mind eating delicious, ugly jelly rolls until I get it right.

The Summit

The last few days I have seen a glimpse of what this new season in life will look like for me as a mom with homeschooled children, a public schooled child, and college boys.  It is going to be busy, fun, challenging, scary, and exciting all rolled into one.  The last few days looked like this:

Yesterday was homeschool-as-usual-ish.  Jacob’s library volunteer assignment this semester lands on Fridays….at the zoo.  So, after we arrived at the library, Jacob headed to the zoo with the librarians for ZOOfari Trails, which is apparently story time at the zoo once a month.  Those in charge at the zoo were equally excited to see Jacob as he is also a zoo volunteer and trained to handle the animals.  I don’t have a picture of him handling the pythons yesterday morning because I was back at the library working through third grade schoolwork with Jeanae, while my Joseph opted to stay home to work on his school.  But, I believe he enjoyed double-duty volunteer work, and he managed to stay focused enough when we returned home to finish his schoolwork for the day.

Last night was the soccer team’s alumni scrimmage/picnic/parent meeting.  This was both foreign and familiar territory to me as Jordan had played high school soccer as a freshman three years ago in Colorado.  It was almost exactly the same except for the scenery and the humidity and the fact that I didn’t know a soul.  But, as I sat watching the scrimmage, I remembered how much I enjoyed watching him play and how much I missed it and that I am glad he is following his dream.  It felt comfortable and nice to be back in the stands watching my son.  At the same time, I felt the uncomfortableness welling up inside as I also became reacquainted with the list of obligations expected from the soccer moms.  Oh yeah….how quickly I forgot about how moms are expected to work the concession stands and provide team meals and…..I’m pretty sure I missed some things they were talking about during the mom parent meeting as I was already plotting how to avoid any or all of it.  I won’t really avoid it….maybe….but I’d like to.  It takes me out of my comfort zone.  It’s good for me, but my first instinct is to avoid it.  I am, however, most thankful for every mom who willingly steps up to be the team mom or the leader to organize these things.  I stand in awe of these moms.  There’s a very small part of me, hidden deep inside surrounded by layers and walls of insecurities who would like to grow up to be that person some day.  I applaud those moms!

With my college boys, I spent a little time yesterday and a lot of time today walking their schedules with them…mostly for the benefit of my incoming freshman.  My returning junior didn’t feel the need to find his way around campus, but he sure enjoyed showing me all the places he hangs out and studies and does his thing.  My freshman found his locker for all his architecture materials, all his classrooms, and is actually getting excited to start this new chapter in his life.  I walked the schedule with my oldest when he was first a freshman, and it was helpful to him as he navigated those early days of college.  I think my second will also benefit from this time we spent, and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute with both of them.  They have both been home much of the time this past week, getting the last minute things in order before they begin their year.  I will miss their company, but I am excited for both of them as they take these next steps toward reaching for their goals and dreams.

Sometimes being the mom-on-demand is tiresome, and I am tempted to wish away the duties and obligations I have.  At the same time, I don’t want to miss any of it.  I find that when I look at the schedule and see overlapping events and appointments, I feel overwhelmed and anxious.  But, when I stop to breathe and focus on the task-at-hand, taking one step at a time while remembering the big picture; I start to enjoy the process rather than dread it.  As I was pondering my time with each of my children and feeling both pride and stress, I found it interesting that the devotional in my God Calling book for today summed up how I was feeling in a much more clear and precise way:

The Summit

See not the small trials and vexations of each hour of the day.  See the one purpose and plan to which all are leading.  If in climbing a mountain you keep your eyes on each stony or difficult place, as you ascend, seeing only that, how weary and profitless your climb!

But if you think of each step as leading to the summit of achievement, from which glories and beauties will be open before you, then your climb will be so different.

My goal is to be the mom who keeps her focus on the summit….enjoying the glories and beauties that life, parenting, and teaching all have to offer.

 

Ready or not; here it comes!  Our 16th year of homeschooling begins today.  If I waited until I felt perfectly ready, we would have never begun homeschooling in the first place.  I am not sure I’ll ever feel like I am completely ready, but it is time.  So here we go!

One week ago today, as I was working toward finishing second grade with my daughter, she abruptly stopped the flow of our regular math meeting and asked if we would still be doing school on the 20th.  “I can arrange for us to be doing school on the 20th if that’s what you want.”  Yes, that is indeed what she desired.  She had recently learned how to write the date using digits.  She thought it would be a hoot to get to write 8/20/14.  It’s the little things.  And then a few lessons later she learned to multiply by 2’s.  Equally thrilling for her was the thought of writing 2 x 10 = 20 as one of her math sentences for the number of the day during her math meeting.  Her wish shall be granted.

Starting a fresh new school year in the middle of the week is something we have never done before.  I don’t know why not?  I think it makes sense.  We always start out slowly….for all our sakes.  Beginning school today will help them get their books and supplies together, become acclimated to their new lists I have made for each of them, and it will allow me some time to find our new groove for the year before we attempt a full week next week.  It seems it always takes a few weeks with a new school year to find what works and what doesn’t with timing, schedules and the general flow of the day.

8:20:14 school schedules

New to me since 2002 is having only three students to homeschool.  You would think I would find going from homeschooling six children just a few short years ago to five for a couple of years to now only three might be more desirable, less work, and increasingly more manageable.  But, I have a feeling it will take some adjustment on my part as I already sense I am going to miss the fact that I could rely on my older boys to step in and help here and there.  No matter how many or how few children I have home with me, the adjustment period is always necessary.

So, without further ado, meet our J.D. Academy students for the 2014-2015 school year:

8:20:14 1st day of school Jacob, Joseph, Jeanae

Jacob is 15.  In the education world out there, people his age are called sophomores.  So, we say he is a sophomore when people ask.  It seems a lot simpler than saying he’s in 10th grade vocabulary, but 9th grade grammar and 10th grade Latin, but 8th grade math, etc….  I know many homeschooled students who are never in only one grade at a time.  Jacob is no exception.  Jacob and I have much work to do this year.  My focus has shifted from getting him to fit within the mold of what is “normal” and expected of a 15 year old sophomore to helping him grow his gifts and talents while keeping him moving ahead on those subjects which are not so easy for him.

Joseph is 11, and we answer “6th grade” when inquiring minds want to know about his current grade level.  Sixth grade work is not an unattainable goal for Joseph.  He suffers from a case of perfectionism (not sure where he got that <insert sarcasm>) which causes him to write ever so slowly.  His handwriting is impeccable.  I often cannot tell if I am reading an example in a workbook or his actual answer.  This, combined with his constant questioning of the importance or wisdom of finishing his lessons in a timely manner and his ability to become distracted with other obvious passions, have all worked together to cause him to fall behind where the world says he should be with his studies.  I’m not concerned, but we will be working on finding a balance between self-discipline and focus while still exploring his passions and interests this year.

Jeanae is 8, and ready for third grade. She steadily worked all summer to be ready.  My goal is to keep her on track through third grade so she has more of a summer break next year.  Her goal is to write 8/20/14 today!  Bring it on!

My prayer for all my children is that they all learn to walk with Jesus….that they learn to develop and grow in a personal relationship with Him to guide and direct them throughout life.  I also pray that they learn the values and work ethic necessary to grow into men (and one little lady) of character.  And, that they each discover their own unique God-given gifts, talents and interests; and that they use them wisely as they seek to find their individual purposes and reach their full potential while on this earth.

With all that said, we may be slow or have encountered speed bumps, twists, turns and detours along our path, but our homeschooling mission remains the same as it was when we first began 16 years ago.  Let the new year begin!

So much was going on last week that there was little time to write.   Here’s a recap of the week starting with the baby of the family, moving up to the oldest child.

Baby boy, Beau, had a hard week.  He was sick with diarrhea, vomiting and appeared depressed and/or schizophrenic most of the week.  I don’t know if it was the big dog party where he may have ingested heaven knows what or if it was the rabies vaccination he got on Monday morning or if it was the extremely short hair cut which may have been cut too close to his dignity.  I had to leave him there for five hours to allow them time to cut his hair and give him the shot.  When I brought him home, he did not run to hide under my daughter’s bed; but that may have been because he couldn’t….she recently “cleaned” her room which means there was no room for him under the bed.  But later that evening, he started appearing sick.  The only normal behavior he had was clinging to me.  It took all week for him to start acting more normal, but he is now finally acting more like his regular self.  Things are looking up!

My little girl and her two brothers next in age auditioned for the next community theater musical, Meet Me In St. Louis.  While she really wanted the part of Tootie, the director said she was a great little actor but needed work on the music part.  Translation:  She sings like her mother.  When I was her age, I thought the only way you could tell if someone was a good singer was if they made really ugly faces while singing.  You see, I must be tone deaf because I didn’t know I was so bad when the nuns informed me in sixth grade that my voiced “clashed” with the other girls when I consistently volunteered to lead singing in Mass every day.  Let me say that again.  The nuns told me I couldn’t sing.  Have you ever heard a real live nun sing?  Trust me, they don’t sound like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music.  If they said I was bad, it must be true.  My dreams were shattered, I was embarrassed, I stopped volunteering for anything, and I never took choir when I reached junior high.   I don’t want my girl to be marked with that same stigma, even if she never develops as a singer.  But, she’ll never know if she doesn’t try.  So she tried, and I’m proud of her.  I hope she keeps trying, and that she continues to sing with wild abandon.  She thinks she hit the jackpot in the production because she was given parts which allow her to appear in the production four different times, and that makes her happy.  Things are looking up!

As for my Joseph, the director said she would have cast him in everything if he were a bit older.  As it stands, he has two roles to play.  She says they are major, but he has one line.  He seems to be fine with that.  His most exciting news this week was receiving an email from a representative of the  Bricks by the Bay Brickfilm Festival notifying him that his stop motion film “Freeze” won the Young Filmmaker Award in their Bricks by the Bay’s first Brickfilm Festival.  He was so cute when I first showed him the email.  He was halfway through the first sentence when he had to do a double take and start rereading, slowing realizing he had won.  They asked him to send his address so they could send him his trophy and another prize.  He has been impatiently waiting for it to arrive every single day since waking up to that email on August 14th.  He is waiting with eager anticipation for his Major Award to arrive.  Things are looking up!

Jacob also won a contest this week.  He came to me early in the week telling me he won a contest for Kellogg’s Krave cereal on Facebook.  He said he didn’t even know it was a contest, but he won!  At that time, all he knew he won was a t-shirt and a mystery prize.  With the way my kids go through cereal, I wishfully told him it was probably a year’s supply of cereal.  When his package arrived he was happy to find two t-shirts, two movie tickets, two drawstring backpacks, two magnets, and TWELVE boxes of Krave cereal!

8:14:14 Jacob won a contest

I suppose they thought 12 boxes might be a year’s supply.  Maybe in most households, but not at this house.  Twelve boxes might last three days if we are lucky.  And, as far as the auditions for the musical, the director told me it was a reach, but she was giving Jacob a lead role.  

8:17:14 Jacob and his new script

She sees something in him and wants to work with him,  She said he reminds her of herself when she was younger.  She wants to help him grow, and I am thankful.  I am thankful each time my children are met with a divine appointment.  I can see it, and I know it is no accident when certain people are placed in their paths for a purpose.  I am excited for Jacob, for this opportunity, and for this latest divine appointment.  Things are looking up!

Of course, every day this past week was filled with newness and adventure for my Jordan who headed off to public school for his senior year.  While that transition has been fun for me to watch and more fun for him to live, I saw him express most excitement about finally reaching a point in a project he has been working on at the insectary at KSU which is part of the Biosecurity Research Institute.  He has been volunteering at the insectary all summer, and this past week he reached a goal as he began running the experiment he has researched, planned, and set up.  I’m not exactly sure how to explain all that has gone into the experiment; and since it is part of a government agency, I could probably safely say that I’d have to kill you if I told you.  So I’ll just leave it at that.  But, he’s hoping this experience and work with the insectary will open the door for major scholarship offers.  Things are looking up!

This past week, my Johnathan began receiving his books and architecture kits in the mail as the first day of college is nearing.  This, combined with a job offer at a local art museum, lit a bit of a fuse of excitement in him as he began to see things coming together.

8:12:14 Johnathan college books

However, both he and Jay were overlooked for the family scholarship which they were both counting on to help with tuition.  This puts a slight glitch in his plan and excitement, as he cannot afford his tuition without this particular scholarship….even with the job.  It is annoying to have to deal with this, but it is something that we should be able to get resolved, assuming the financial aid department recognizes their error.  Thankfully, he has been listening all these years as I have been teaching him to trust in Jesus.  He believes this with all his heart:

8:18:14 Johnathan's chalk wall

He wrote that on his chalkboard wall when paying for college became “real” to him.  Since that time, he has been able to earn enough money to at least pay for this year, assuming the family scholarship would be awarded as it should be shared among all the descendants attending this university.  In the mean time, he has entered every million dollar sweepstakes he can find.  Things are looking up!

And, last but not least, my Jay shares the same frustrations with the family scholarship fiasco as Johnathan.  I wish I could write at this time that the issue has been resolved.  But, it hasn’t….not yet.  The big event for Jay this past week was finishing his second summer internship with a local company where he worked with the engineering department.  Here he is walking in the house from his last day on the job….excited to head back to classes next week….back to what he really loves:  school, friends, and tutoring.  

8:15:14 Jay's last day at Farrar

Last summer when he left the job, they sent him off with much fanfare and many well-wishes.  Sadly, this year, he walked out the door with none of that.  But being the sweet guy he is, he got up this morning to make his co-workers at this company one of his award-winning apple pies.

8:18:14 Jay making a pie8:18:14 Jay's 1st apple pie of the year

He began winning pie contests with this pie (his own recipe for both crust and filling) when he was just 12 years old.  He told them he would make them a pie, and he did.  What a great kid.  I hope they loved it as much as he loved making it for them.  And now….onward to his junior year to defend his 4.0.  Things are looking up!

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