Ahhh! The beachy breeze we all love!
We picked up some BBQ and went out for an evening trip to the beach. I told Steven that all I wanted for our anniversary were some good pictures on the beach with my new camera! He was paranoid that I'd ruin it with sand or by falling into the water chasing the baby, but I kept it clean until I got in the car. Sand had gotten into the bag I've been using, and unfortunately it was covered when I took it out at home! I meticulously cleaned it and was so glad that I bought the rubber cover and the lens filter and hood. Now I'm on the hunt for a camera bag.
Thomas was obsessed with the fishing rod and wouldn't let it go. We had to pry it out of his hands and tell him that the fish went night-night!
Last year, we didn't have a date on our anniversary either. We spent a long weekend here in town checking things out before he accepted the job offer. I often think back on that trip and the heartache that started with the announcement of our move. We told the kids while out to ice cream and they weren't very excited. We've had quite an 11th year with the big heart surgery and our big move to South Texas. There have been a lot of ups and downs, but overall I've spent this year in gratitude for God's provision for our family.
They mostly caught seaweed.
After going through a lot of financial hardships over the years, we are finally starting to come to a place of peace in that area of our lives, thanks to some very hard work on Steven's part and the wonderful company and boss he's blessed to work for. We're starting to consider the option of buying a home here later this year and have been enjoying spending hours each weekend driving around different neighborhoods and surrounding towns to figure out where we'd like to settle. I have my eye on a total renovation project, but we're waiting to see if that's meant to be. Either way, it's fun to dream and plan while also just enjoying our rental home here (especially when the toilet or AC breaks and we don't have to pay for it!).
I love these boys!
We're continuing to find our place in the community here while meeting new friends and trying different activities. The girls really enjoyed their semester in ballet, and Steven Joseph had fun with t-ball. We've started with a new piano teacher for Ellie (Mary Clare is choosing to just watch for now), and had a great swim team season. I'm hosting a weekly book club which usually has about 4-6 moms and 20-30 kids. I love having people over so it's been a joy to be able to host this book club. It helps me get the house clean each week, even though we do have a bit of work to clean up after that many people! We're reading "A Mother's Rule of Life," which should help me to put together a schedule and plan for our new year of homeschooling!
family has made in the 8 months we've lived here. We're enjoying lots of wonderful family experiences and are feeling very grateful to live so close to the beach! Steven is content with his job, and although it's about 25 minutes away, he still gets to stop in while on work errands during the week. Last week we met him for lunch one day and then I took the kids on our first outing to Sam's Club! We're getting to the point of needing to shop at a bulk store these days :-)
It's hard to believe that we've been married 11 years! And that our oldest will turn TEN this coming year! Time really does fly and I'm starting to feel more like a middle-aged mom than a young mom these days. I'm working at organizing my life at home. In fact, today I bought a binder to start putting together things like our schedule, goals, recipes, prayer intentions, etc. A homemaking binder was always something I kind of scoffed at, but here I am...ready to take this leap and grow in my vocation a little more each year. Nothing less than God's grace is helping me to make it through these days; He gives me all that I need to take care of my family, teach my kids, and keep my home. It's a hard job!
A trail ride coming down the beach!
And as for our married vocation and fostering our own relationship, we'll actually get to go on a date this Friday night for an NFP dinner and presentation by a popular priest in town. I'm very much looking forward to some couple time, even though all the kids will be upstairs in the restaurant! I think it's been about 2 years since we've had a date. And another week until we finally get our big summer vacation...a week at the beach with Steven's side of the family! We're starting to gear up and get ready for that!
Steven Joseph's big catch! The only catch of the night!
The past few weeks, I've really been challenged in the area of contentment. I read a few blogs; one challenging us moms to consider how we portray our children and husband when many of our blog posts and Facebook updates are complaining and joking about our family life. Later I read a blog entry that was just praising God and sharing a young mom's contentment with this stage in her life. I do think we can tend to get on the bandwagon of complaining about everything from illness to poopy diapers, husbands who work late, and a lack of alone time. So I think that it was a good reminder to me to consider how I portray my life as a homeschooling mom of 4 on this blog. I hope that as the title of my blog suggests, I'm mostly sharing about "Blair's Blessings" and chronicling our day-to-day adventures so that my kids can look back and remember. They're the ones I'm writing this for anyway. I mean it's a nice outlet for me and now it's good for family since we've moved away, but most of all I want to have a record of my "foggy years" since I'm certain I won't have much memory of these days otherwise.
One of my children touched a fish! Wow!
So, this new school year and marriage year I'd like to have some new goals for my blog, celebrating it's 6th year this month! 1) To chronicle the daily blessings of the marriage and family life I've been graced with. 2) To continue to grow in my writing skills and photography. 3) To share more of my faith journey and some reflections on scripture. 4) To find and share more daily joys of homeschooling my children. "FIND" being one of the key words. I need to find and have more joy in my daily work at home. I'm a happy person, generally. But the past few years, I've become somewhat jaded and crabby, especially with my children. They deserve to have a happy mom, and to have memories of happy days learning together, crafting together, praying together, and working together. Staying off the computer and iPhone during the daytime hours will definitely help with this goal.
Crafting and doing artwork and other projects with the kids is something I'd like to plan out a little more this year. They all love to draw and paint and to make things with their hands. It brings us all smiles, and can brighten up a gloomy day. Maybe planning out one of these a week would be a good goal for me. Reading together is also something that doesn't happen as much when we are crabby and spending time on the internet. Last week when we kept the computer off, we read so much more together! I finally have one fluent reader, and hopefully by this time next year, I'll have another one and an almost-kindergartner who will be starting to read, too!
For our homeschooling this year, I'm going to be doing more of my own curriculum planning. I'm looking forward to adding in Latin and doing some special units on the Olympics, the Election, and Texas History. I think we're going to try a year studying Anatomy for science, which should be fun for all of us! They're pretty well-versed in animals and plant life (covered by most elementary science programs), so I think this will be a good change for everyone, especially Mary Clare who is very interested in the medical field.
This was one of my favorite pictures of the day, and I think it was taken by Steven!
As of now, we're not sure if our Classical Conversations co-op is going to happen. Both the other families are possibly making big changes this year, so I'm considering how I'd like to use those materials on our own, and how we'll do without a weekly meeting with other children. Steven Joseph might be able to attend a weekly Montessori Faith Formation program, the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. I'm thrilled that at least one of my kids will be able to participate in this program as it has been something I've admired for many years. It looks like it might take place on Friday mornings, so maybe that could be our day of doing some kind of classical memory work while we're there at the church during that time.
I'm hoping to coordinate a nature club at our local botanical gardens for our homeschool group. I still need to work out the details, but I hope this will be a nice outlet for social and outdoor activities for the kids, especially if we don't continue the co-op. Maybe we can do some beach trips and other field trips with this group, too. We miss all the wonderful activities with our homeschool group back home, but it's nice to have less commitments and more family time these days.
The girls will start back to ballet class next month, and are very much looking forward to being in the Nutcracker this year! I think that will be one of the best parts of this new dance studio. I absolutely love the Nutcracker and am thrilled that the girls might be able to take part in this production. We haven't decided if they'll take classes other than ballet; right now their classes are on different days (Mon/Weds, and Tues/Thurs), which will make for very full weekday evenings! I'm glad that the piano teachers generally like teaching homeschoolers during daytime hours, so an early afternoon slot usually works well for that. I'm so glad they're getting this music instruction, even though only one of the girls is choosing to participate at the moment. Mary Clare is just learning by osmosis! But maybe she'll decide to try it again this fall.
Some more material goals for this new year are to continue the lessons of the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace program by getting out of debt and starting to save for a rainy day and for retirement. After the next few months, we'll just have a few debts to work on. I'm hoping we'll find a nice family home here, since it's looking like it will be a longer "stay" than I'd initially hoped. I'd love to have a home with a nice guest area for all our family and friends to come visit and go to the beach! I'm also hoping for a large useable yard for the kids, a homeschool room/area, an attractive kitchen, and a large bathtub! I've only lived in one place with a soaking tub since we've been married, and it's always been one of my dreams. A safe family neighborhood where we can walk and bike is also a priority and a bit hard to find in this city. We'll see how many of these dreams come true! I'm hoping we can go on a nice family vacation next year. My vote is to Disneyworld in Florida, but we'll see what happens. I'd love to plan a visit to see my brother's family in the next few years (they're moving to Seattle next month). But mostly we're grateful to be able to have frequent trips to the beach, our own little vacations during hectic weeks!
Another great photo by Steven!
These next few weeks will include lots of planning and reflecting as we look towards this new year. I hope to write out a review of last year's homeschooling progress with plans for this next year. It'll be my last year before I have 3 official homeschoolers! I smile with joy as I watch the sun set on this last year (like the photos below), and I look forward in hope for the new year to come! God is good! Thanks for listening to my rambling...