Progress Report

I thought I would give a little school update for Charlotte, now that we have five weeks under our belt.

As most of you know, we are doing Classical Conversations this year. I was a little intimidated by the volume of memory work when we first started, but Charlotte is sailing through each week and showing me that she is much more capable than I gave her credit for.

If you are curious about memory work and why I am a believer, this article is a great resource (it’s also great if you’re just wondering what Charlotte and I are doing each day): Memory Work: A Personal Journey.

Just for a little sampling, here are some of the facts that Charlotte has memorized in five weeks:

  • History events from Creation to Alexander the Great


{This is the stack of History Timeline cards she has memorized.}

  • The continents and oceans
  • Western European countries
  • Latin conjugations
  • English grammar facts
  • Counting by 1s, 2s, 3s, 4s…and so on through 10s.
  • Seven biomes
  • Types of consumers (herbivores, carnivores, omnivores)…

And she knows these history sentences that totally crack me up. Her favorite one is about The Crusades, “Eleanor of Aquitaine and her son, Richard the Lionhearted, fought the Turks for Jerusalem during the time of the Crusades, which occurred from 1095 to 1291.” She has little hand motions and everything.

So how does she know all of this? Well, most of it is set to music (I bet you can sing all of We Didn’t Start the Fire if you had to!) which helps both of us. And we practice it once or twice a day depending on time.  And we listen to the Timeline CD every time we are in the car.

Why does she know this? Well, the above article explains this so well. So you should really read it! The short answer is that the memory work now lays the foundation for more learning later.  When she’s in middle school and learning about the Crusades, she will already have names and dates firmly lodged into that pretty little head of hers. So she can focus on learning more about the context, the reasons and the consequences without getting all stressed out about memorizing the names and dates for tests. (But seriously, read the article.)

And just to be clear, Charlotte has memorized and can recite simple facts. She can tell you who signed the Magna Carta, but she can’t tell you what it is, much less why it matters. So please don’t be too impressed with my teaching!

I think I mentioned before that Charlotte also presents a little talk each week in class. I haven’t taken a video because I don’t want her to be distracted, but trust me when I say she is a little pro. She and I come up with a topic each week, and then Tim will illustrate some note cards for her to use as talking points. So far she has talked about camping, her trip to Florida, going to an Orioles game and our new house.

In addition to CC, we also do math, writing and reading each day. I am using Horizons Math, Handwriting Without Tears and the BOB books for her reading.

I know it sounds like a lot, but it really only takes us an hour to an hour and a half each day. Thanks to some very wise advice from veteran homeschooling moms, I am not trying to take on too much or add to the curriculum. We’re not doing crafts, and I would be ashamed to say that we have yet to set foot inside of the library if we were not so well-stocked at home with books (thanks to Regular Nana!). I really had this idea that I would need to do crafts for every lesson and be “that mom” who checks out all of the season books at the library at one time (you know who you are! Ha!), but I have freed myself from those expectations, and as a result we are having a great time learning without adding unnecessary stress.

Our new neighborhood is great for walking, and we are just a short walk to the park, so we have been taking regular nature walks for “recess,” which has been a treat for both of us.

I think this post is long enough, but please feel free to ask any questions or share any homeschooling tips you have.
And here is a little video of C practicing her timeline. She seemed to do better before the camera came on, but her little voice is too cute not to share!


Baby Update

Remember that time I was pregnant and I would post updates almost hourly? Charlotte had a whole book of blog posts before she was even born.

This poor kid is already being neglected, and he’s still attached to me every second of the day.

We had our 20 week ultrasound and anatomy check on Friday (see, it never took me four days to update with Charlotte! Ha!).

Did I mention that we’re having a boy? I feel like we already told everyone that. Thanks to modern technology, we actually knew we had a baby boy about a month ago. But on Friday we got visual confirmation.

And unlike his sister before him, Baby Boy was more than happy to show off his four-chambered heart. We will go back in October for a fetal echocardiogram, but based on Friday’s ultrasound we should get only good news at that appointment. (We are having the echo only because of Charlotte’s CHD, not because there is any reason to think this baby has heart issues.)

The most popular question is whether or not we have a name yet, and as of right now, we do not.

Sam’s pick is Daniel, and Charlotte’s pick is Jackie.

We’ll see.

If anyone is interested (looking at you, grandparents), here is the link to our Amazon registry. I feel weird having a baby registry for a third child, but we got rid of every. baby. thing. The smallest clothes we have are a size 3t. I did find a dresser/changing table at an antique store in town, and a crib on Craigslist, so we are set with the major furniture.

Thankfully there has been a baby boy boom at our church, so there should be plenty of baby boy clothes to be passed on to us.

I think that’s it!

Musical Interlude

There is a song we have been singing fairly regularly at church lately.

We sang it a month or so ago when I was in the middle of a very raw and uncertain place, and I could hardly sing, I was so overcome by the truth in the words.

But I could not remember the name of the song to save my life. I thought it might be a Sovereign Grace Music song, but I couldn’t find it among the songs there.

I remembered that Tim regularly jots down song lyrics that strike him a certain way while we are singing. (I love it when we are standing in church and he pulls that worn little notebook out of his pocket…) Sure enough, tucked in between sermon notes were four lines from the song… just enough for me to locate the name.


Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

The one verse in particular that struck me that day was this:

Teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus, You’re my hope and stay

I was being tempted that particular day; tempted to worry. Tempted to ponder the what-ifs. Tempted to keep all of my anxiety and heartache tucked deep inside instead of laying it at the feet of the only One who can carry it.

The song was both freeing and convicting. The words gently reminded me that I need him, that he is the only one who can give me hope, who can ease my anxiety, who holds the answers to all the “what-ifs,” because he is the answer.

And the freedom, oh, the freedom!

Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

And where You are, Lord, I am FREE.

Soak it in, friends.


I used to go camping a lot as a kid. And by “camping,” I mean, I would stay in a fairly large camper with my grandparents and my cousin Keilah. In one camper, we had our own little room upstairs with two twin beds and closets and a little night stand between us. We would sit up there on our beds with the matching quilts (I think they were orange?) and sort our massive stash of taffy. Grandma did all of the cooking inside in her little kitchen, and we even had a TV. We camped at the beach, in the mountains, and we were annual regulars at the Riveredge RV Park in Pigeon Forge, TN. They had a water slide.

I think I camped in a tent once in high school. I was helping oversee an overnight retreat for the younger girls at church. I was in a tent with maybe four middle-school girls. It rained, and our tent flooded a little and then one of the girls puked and I remember that her puddle was at least in the rainwater puddle, so we were able to escape fairly unscathed.

Tim and I camped together twice before we had kids. We worked as camp counselors two summers with our church youth group, and we would have a little camp counselor retreat by Kerr Lake in NC. The tent camping wasn’t as atrocious as I made it out to be. I would daresay I even enjoyed myself, when I wasn’t having to psych myself up for middle-of-the-night walks to the bathroom. I had to force myself to push aside all memories of Deliverance and talk to Jesus the whole way.

I did have one spectacular camping experience that will go down in the books. When I was in South Africa, we camped one night in a place called Warmbaths. I was paired up with my friend Erica Lineberry, who I am convinced can set up a tent in the dark with one arm tied behind her back. She is bona fide. She made our little tent cozy. Or maybe I was just so flipping tired from being on a bus for eight million hours that I could have slept on a concrete slab…


We all know that having children will make you do things you never thought you wanted to do before. Like killing spiders with your bare hands, staying up to the wee hours to fashion costumes out of random things around your house, cutting perfectly good crusts off of bread… and for me, living in a tent for three days.

Yes, a couple of times a year I transform myself into an outdoorsy-type. A granola mom. I dehydrate fruit and pack up everything needed to replicate home cooking outside. I also stock up on bug spray and citronella candles. Last year Tim used his bonus from work to line and cover the back of his truck mainly so we can go camping.

I actually kind of like it.



I am going to tell you how I came to be a campy girl and how I survive living in a tent in my next post. I’ll also be talking about my favorite camping essentials and how to make the very best coffee in the world.

You’re welcome!



Growin’-Up Girl

The girl started kindergarten this week. We had our first day on Tuesday, after we dropped Sam off at school.


I offered to take her out for breakfast to kick off the new school year, but she wanted to wait.

“Let’s just go home, do my school, and then you can take me to get a donut when I am finished with my work. Like a treat!”


Okay, Baby Girl.

We have been keeping our work time at about an hour each day this week with math, writing and alphabet review. And we have been doing lots of reading together on the couch. Charlotte was a little bummed the first day when she realized that her “shows” aren’t part of the learning day, but she seems to be surviving without the TV!

Charlotte has her first class day (we call it co-op) for Classical Conversations (CC) on Friday, so next week we will be adding more time on to focus on our memorization work.  Please click on the link if you’re interested in knowing more about CC. I was familiar with the Classical model before we even had kids, but the more Tim and I looked into it, the more we were convinced that CC was the right program for us.  The mission of CC is Knowing God and Making Him Known. What could be better than that?

We’re only three days in, so I won’t pretend like we have it all down yet, but I am keeping in mind all the wonderful advice and wisdom I have received from my fellow homeschooling moms who are a little further down the road. We are keeping it light, and I am not stressing out about everything being perfect. We start each day with a Bible story and a prayer, that we will be good stewards of our “class” time, and that we will honor God with our work.

I’ll be writing more as the year progresses. I would love your prayers as I endeavor to teach Charlotte this year!

Finally, back to school.

Sam has been waiting for today for a few weeks now. He loves school and he was ready to go back.

This morning I packed his Summer Journal where he had documented all of his adventures, from gardening to a trip to Florida to driving a boat on Lake Keowee. We had a wonderful summer, and I am sad to see it end. I am a little happy to be back on a regular schedule, and I know Sam is, too.

We woke up to rain and fog this morning, so there weren’t many good pictures. I did manage to get one good one of the second grader before we headed out.


I hope it’s a great year, Bud! We love you!


I’m trying not to think about all the things we have going on. I want to just take it one day at a time, but there are things that need advance planning. And while I am not prone to freaking out, I can shut down and lay on the couch if it all gets to be too much. And let’s face it, laying on the couch may feel good, but it doesn’t help me make much progress.

So what’s in our near future? Here is what I’m counting down to…

9 Days: Sam goes back to school. 2nd grade!

11 Days: Camping trip (not really stressful, but it does take a lot of planning and prep if we are going to eat and not freeze.)

15 Days: Charlotte’s first day of kindergarten.

15 Days: My first day of homeschooling a kindergartener! (Yes, 15 days. I am pretty much a one-woman school board, so I can start school after Labor Day.)

26 Days: Tim inches ever closer to 40.

39 Days: We will be making two major transactions this day; officially selling one house and buying another.

40 Days: Moving all of our stuff in two days. Yikes!

65 Days: Sam turns eight. EIGHT. He’s been making birthday lists and plans since his last birthday.

166 Days: New. Baby. Hopefully all the boxes will be unpacked before then.

So that’s it in a nutshell. So much to do before the move and before the baby. So, so much.

I need to go lay on the couch now…



Everyone in my family knows how I feel about firearms. {Not a fan.}

My daddy was an avid collector of guns, and after he died much of his collection was distributed among his brothers and my two grandfathers.  Over the years the men in my family have felt a compulsion to pass these items back to me, and never more so than when I gave birth to a son.

I have managed to control the flow of firearms into my home, keeping the “collection” to one rifle and one pistol. And Tim, knowing well my paranoia over having guns in a house with children, has hidden the {unloaded} pistol so well that I would not be able to tell you where it is even if you held a… well, you know.

Like many mamas before me, I had hoped to avoid raising a gun-lover by not having any toy guns in the house. And like so many sons before mine, my dear Sam made a gun out of a stick before his 3rd birthday. How do they know these things? Is there some sort of subliminal message coming across on Sesame Street that is undetected by females?

And I am sure some of you remember the “banana” from kindergarten…

IMG_6886 IMG_6888

The boy loves guns. He loves to draw them and pretend shoot them. He loves Nerf guns and pop guns and plastic Stormtrooper guns.

My Papa {Mama’s daddy…follow?} has been asking for a year or two now if he could teach Sam to shoot a BB gun. Like any good mama, I kept putting him off. {“You’ll shoot your eye out!”} But this past trip down to SC I relented. I knew it would be fun for both of them.


Sam could not cock the gun on his own, but with the shooting was all him. And boy is he a good shot! I couldn’t get over how good his aim was. He shot down cans and bottles, and he even hit a tree trunk from several yards away in one try.

sampapa sampapa2


I won’t lie, I was sure proud of Sam for having such good aim. Goodness knows, he didn’t get that from me!




It was our last night in the hotel.

The thunder woke me before she could, but I could hear her walking over in the dark. And then there she was, standing next to the bed. The lightning was barely visible through the thick hotel curtains, but she saw enough to insist that she needed to sleep with us.

I reminded her that we were all sleeping in the same room, so there was no reason to be scared. She wasn’t having it.

I woke Tim up, thinking he should just go ahead and get in the bed with Sam since it was only a matter of time before we had two afraid & wide-awake children on our hands. He obliged, and before long they were all asleep. Except me, of course.

Charlotte’s head barely had time to hit the pillow next to me before she was out, in spite of the fact that the storm was still thundering away. I thought how silly it was that she was suddenly able to sleep even though the storm had not changed.

No, the storm had not changed, but Charlotte’s proximity to me had changed. She was nearer to me than she was before, and that was all she needed to be at peace and go back to sleep.

I thought of how so many people have commented over the years on how at peace Tim and I have been through all of Charlotte’s surgeries and health struggles. Of course we don’t have some magical formula. We haven’t tapped into some deep well of inner peace that we conjured up by our own will. Our “secret” is no secret at all… it was all in our proximity to Him.

I don’t know what your particular storm is right now. Maybe you are in the midst of one, or maybe you see the storm clouds gathering on the horizon. Maybe you’re on the other side of a particularly bad storm, and in the aftermath you realize you spent the entire time worried and afraid.

I can’t promise that your storm will resolve the way you want it to. I can’t guarantee that the destruction caused by the storm won’t be worse that the storm itself. I can absolutely promise you that closing the gap between God and you will bring unspeakable peace in the middle of it all.

Your storm may not change, but when your proximity to Him increases, you may rest your head in peace.

But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
That I may tell of all Your works.
-Psalm 73:28 {NASB}


Change of Plans

So, it looks like I won’t be losing weight this summer after all.

Ha ha.


We went in yesterday for a fancy ultrasound. It turns out you get all kinds of special treatment when you already have one child with a birth defect.

Everything looked great! I will go back in September for the big anatomy check (Come on four chambers! And two ventricles!) and then in October for a fetal echo to make sure this little one isn’t taking after his/her big sister in the heart department.

I am 12 weeks along, and our due date is January 31.

And yes, this baby is about as big of a surprise as they come, but I am told those are the best kind.