Summah time again....or, the return of the Diary of a P.A. student ('s wife).

  It's here! Today starts our summer vacation...the longest break we've EVER taken from homeschooling (ok, so I've only been doing this for 4 years. But still.) We had adopted a year-round school model when we moved to AZ, because it's crazy-hot here in the summer and what else are we going to do when it's 115 out? But then there was this year.
    This year was....hard, homeschooling-wise. We learned a lot (yes, we as in I AND the kids), we did a lot, we read a lot (a lot a lot) but it was HARD. Especially once January hit. I've made some modifications to the way we do things and weeded things out that aren't essentials (I may be a little ambitious in my homeschool dreams vs. what we can actually handle. Maybe.) and things have smoothed out reasonably in the past couple of months. But Pax and I still need a break. Blythe, she's one who could (and would, if we'd let her) continue on with school every day all year long. But she needs a break, too, whether she knows it or not. And not just any break, but an extended break this time--6 (or maybe even 8!) whole weeks of playing and friends and traveling and swimming and reading and baking...learning, yes, always, but doing it in a much less structured, more creative and interest-led way.
And I.can't.wait.
    I have a booklist of my own for the summer; and, yes, plans to do some organizing and cleaning out. Plans to sew and to take my "real" camera with me more places and slow down and enjoy the beauty we stumble across. Plans to spend time doing what the kids want to do, whatever they want to do... plans to write, even (gasp!) to blog; and to spend hours with good friends laughing deeply and talking even more deeply and re-setting.
    You see, if I've learned anything during this year, it's that I can't do it all. WE can't do it all. So I've been leaning in and seeking my "why" for this season; which has meant weeding out a lot of other things are wrestling with my ambitions and, yes, my pride. In homeschooling, in photography, in worship, in chicken-farming, and in every other part of our life-because this is where we're at. Defining our "why" makes it SO much easier to say "no" to good things that come along, and leave way for the best things. Because Adam is almost done with school, and there are some huge decisions facing him right now. He'll graduate in August, take his boards, and then start practicing medicine. But the question right now is where and how he'll be doing that....so really, this break comes at the perfect time. For reflecting, for digging in, and for solidifying our "why" as we move forward as a family. For being less distracted by my lists and more open to listening.
And I.can't.wait.


Oh, this kid...

     My parents came to visit a few weeks ago, to see Blythe's end-of-the-year dance recital and  giving Adam & I a chance to go away for a night to celebrate our anniversary-our ninth! We went as a family to drop them off at the airport Monday evening, and per usual one child was crying as we drove away. This time, it was the littlest guy. He started out crying about them leaving, but soon he decided to start throwing a fit about the fact that we were listening to Adventures in Odyssey instead of...anything else. He was throwing a royal fit, which in this house means you don't get what you want...so the other 4 of us were (more or less) happily listening to the story. Finally, 3 miles from home, he started winding down. But he wasn't quite done yet. So, as he whined and whimpered and tried to think of something else to cry about, he suddenly wailed, "Bob Latrielle..." which happens to be the production engineer for Adventures in Odyssey. And Adam and I immediately cracked up.
"Bob Latrielle...."
Oh, this kid. This costume-changing, warrior-loving, word-playing, fierce and cuddly three-year-old...what would we do without you??


Morning Thoughts.

It's still early-6:29-but our day is speeding along. I've been up for over an hour already, did a little exercise, made a smoothie, sat down to spend some time with The Lord...quail and woodpeckers are playing  on our roof. It's foam, so this means those little patterning bird feet are very loud. It's like Wild Kingdom here sometimes...quail,rabbits,lizards galore, chickens, the occasional snake...lots of bugs. I love our little slice of country-in-the-city.
    School starts again today, after a nice long spring break full of Easter and birthdays and grandparents and shopping and trips to the air museum and the zoo...a good visit.
Now back to reality.
Reality hasn't been so easy lately, on the homeschool front. When you have a kid who "doesn't want to be taught" it's....well...there are days I want to find the closest school and enroll the kid. But this is where God has landed us for now, and for as long as He says "homeschool", we will. I'm trying a few new things; letting go of getting through a curriculum in a set time and focusing on mastery and a love of learning.
Mostly, though, connecting to my children's hearts. I truly, deeply desire that connection. Because, honestly... homeschool is nothing without the relationship.
And sending my kid to school May take the pressure off of me for a few years; but it won't change my child's heart and make it teachable.
Character....it's vital to teach in these little years. So that when they go off one day-to school or to a job or to college or the mission field or wherever God calls them-their heads aren't just filled with knowledge; their hearts are filled with godly character. Because that matters more in the long run, honestly. Would both be nice? Sure. But if it's a hard day and the choice it between forcing the. Curriculum and working on character-I want to choose character every time.
Theirs and mine.
I'm being taught and refined  and re shaped just as much-honestly' probably more! Than they are.
I prayed for more patience one, several years ago....and The Lord told us to homeschool.
Delightfully ironic. Uncomfortable.  And beautiful.

As I journaled last Wednesday, this was my heart's prayer...
               "How often I try to fight the battle my way-
without asking my Captain for His orders.
               What are they today, lord?"
He responded-
"Keep your feet steady. Raise your heart to me. Serve them, with love, to renew your mind.
              It's not in the "whats", it's in the "hows" and the "whys". 

Amen, Lord. So be it. I raise my Heart to you. Steady my feet, as I serve them today (and tomorrow, and the next day...). Create in me a clean heart, O God. It starts with me. It starts with you. Amen.


Little Friends.

One of the best things about the Lobmeyers moving to Arizona a year after we did? These two little girlies can stay good friends. Peyton and Blythe, born 2 days apart- they always pick up right where they left off! So thankful for the gift of life-long friendships!


And then he ran away.

        It was last Tuesday that it happened. Just a regular Tuesday, or so I thought....get up, do the morning routine, go to barre, come home. Ask the kids to finish putting their laundry away. Get ready for some outside playtime before we start school. And then...suddenly, it wasn't a regular Tuesday anymore. My oldest son walked calmly out into the living room and informed me that he was running away. That he didn't want to be part of our family anymore....and that he was taking the most important thing with him. "My Bible!" he stated fiercely, grabbing it from its spot on the shelf.
 Blink. Well, at least there's that. Don't laugh! This is serious to him. Deep breath...
     "ok....why don't you want to be part of our family anymore?" I asked him. Granted, we've had a difficult 2 months, this oldest child and I; so it wasn't completely out of the blue. Still, I thought we were doing better than "I don't want to be part of this family anymore"!
    "You ask me to do too much," he stated. Ahh, yes. The chores. The lovely chores...too many "chiefs" in this house, as my dad used to say. He does NOT like being told what to do, unless it's something he wants to do. Actually, all my children are this way...and I promise you, although he probably does a bit more than some of his friends, because we homeschool and, well, that's the way it goes- he's far from a slave. Just the regular stuff...take out trash a few times a week, make his bed, brush his teeth, help sort and put away laundry or unload the dishwasher; help set the table, change the chicks' water in the mornings (oh, we got chicks!)....regular kid stuff.
"We do ask you to do things, because you're part of this family. And families help each other out. Do you think your friends don't have to help their families?"

"Is there something I can do to help make your chores more fun?"
"No. I'm running away from home. I might change my mind and come back, or I might not,"
"I would sure miss you a lot if you decided to leave. So would Daddy. We love you very much."
"I'm leaving."
exit eldest child.

      At this point I wasn't really sure what to do, to be honest. I realized I'd just have to let this play out....the kid is very strong willed and telling him he couldn't go or getting angry with him would just exacerbate the situation. And then he might actually run away. So I didn't say anything.
And he packed his suitcase and backpack, took a blanket, asked me for some food (which I didn't give him. I told him that I didn't want him to leave, so I wasn't going to help him with that part. But that he was free to take his wallet with him. With the allowance in it he'd earned from doing above chores...ironic, no?)
      About this time his little sister and brother came out to the kitchen and saw what was going on. Blasie opened the suitcase because he thought Pax was taking all the cars with him (that's when I saw he'd packed a full change of clothes-including underwear and socks-on top of his Bible. Parenting WIN!!) Blythe, on the other hand, started to cry.
And then he walked out the door.
And she sobbed.
I held her in my arms as she sobbed that she didn't WANT Pax to leave, that she LOVED him and WOULD MISS HIM SO MUCH; and although I reassured her I was pretty sure he'd be back, I also encouraged her to go tell him what she had told me. Because honestly, I wasn't entirely sure if he would be back or not.
"Maybe it'll change his mind," I suggested.
So she ran out the door.
      I followed, of course-I did have a seven-year-old who'd just ran away from home; and although I wasn't 100% on the protocol, I knew I needed to at least see what happened next. And, you know, where he'd gone. Which was down the street, almost to the neighbor's at this point (it's quite a ways-we have big lots in our neighborhood). My little daughter ran, legs and arms pumping, after her brother.
"PAX!! PAAAAX!!! (she caught up to him and stopped-he slowly turned around. Seriously, people. I felt like I was in a tv drama.) Pax (sobbing), I LOVE you. I don't WANT you to leave!! EVER!!"
Pax looked down at her....and then, even so slowly, wrapped his arms around her. It was so sweet... I don't know what else was said at that point; they were too far away to hear. But they turned around and headed for home, together.
       When he finally reached me at the end of our drive way, I just put my arm out and gave him a big hug. He told me he'd changed his mind, and that he wouldn't leave again, ever. I told him he might want to someday, for college or something, and that was ok- but that I was very happy he'd decided to be part of our family. And then he asked me to carry his suitcase inside...to which his 35-pound little sister chimed in "I'll carry it!", even though I'm pretty sure it weighed almost as much as she does.
       It gave me a lot to think about that day and the next, this running away from home stuff. And it turned out that I wasn't the only one it caused to think deeply. After a picnic lunch in the living room, Blythe started to cry again-because when she thought about Pax walking out the door, "it just hurts my heart SO much and I don't want to feel that way!!". This from the passionate little girlie who told me, just last week, that she felt "like I don't have any room for loving Pax in my heart. I don't even WANT to!". She's passionately emotional, that one. But what it taught her-taught BOTH of them, really-is just how much she truly does love her big brother. And just how devastated she'd be if he wasn't in her life....which is a very, very good lesson to learn, indeed. Not always are we given second chances to realize how much we would miss someone if they were gone. Not always do we get to chance from one day to the next and decide to show them more love-at least not without some kind of cataclysmic event. I'm so very thankful for that little life lesson for my kids-and for me, as Adam and I are constantly trying to know our kids well and love them in their differences. For the kid who wants life to be one giant party, this gets a bit tricky when it comes to things like work ethic and chores. But we'll get there. Because we're a family, and we help each other out...in more ways than one.


Blythe is five!

It's ridiculous and sad and sad some more that I haven't posted ANYTHING since November. It's almost February, people. This is borderline depressing. I love to write and in the past this blog has been so cathartic, as well as just plain FUN as a place to document all our silly (and serious) little family stories...so. This year, I've re-dedicated myself to writing here once a week. A story, a short post with photos, a long, drawn-out digging-into-my-soul...this place has been and will always be first and foremost for me, my family, and the friends who want to keep up with us.  And I'm bummed I let "busy" get in the way of that. So, now....

                                                               Blythe is Five!
(please pardon the watermarks on the photos-I'm testing out some new software before I buy it ;)
 Clockwise from Center: B at 2 months, 1 year old, 3 years old (her first Daddy-Daughter dance!), 2 years old (on her first trip to Paris-I miss those sweet, crazy curls!!), 4 and happy in a mud puddle, and FIVE!
We celebrated her birthday 2 days early, on the 17th of January, with a morning "tea" party. True to her nature, she wanted to be sure every detail was just as she'd envisioned it; so we had planned every detail together on a mama-daughter date in Durango over New Year's (thank you, Pinterest). She wanted a Frozen-themed winter tea party, complete with petite fours... and it was so much fun to bring that to life! I'd never done a party like this before, but my parents were in town and Grammy was, of course, a huge help.
 We hunted in our backyard for branches and pine cones and then proceeded to cover them with glitter...messy, but fun! Good thing it's nice enough here in January to do the glittering outside-my marriage may not have survived that much glitter exploding all over our house :). We (I) also strung cotton balls onto thread and hung them up as "snowflakes" falling; and baked teeny Russian teacakes (which my kids call Snowballs). I made a delicious white cake, half of which we filled with homemade lemon curd (again, thank you Arizona winter/citrus season!) and half which we filled with Nutella, before cutting them up into small rectangles and drenching them with frosting. Maybe not the prettiest, but they sure tasted good!
We'd asked the girls to come in "fancy dress", and then Grammy and I helped the little girlies make Fascinators one by one with tulle, ribbon, fake flowers, and gems on headbands while Adam led the rest of the gang is assorted Olaf-themed games. They had a blast and it worked out perfectly! After games, they all put on their fascinators and sat down to "tea" (peppermint hot cocoa). The cutest part was that as soon as those bouncy girls sat down at the elegantly-set table- they all got quiet. And showed beautiful manners. They knew it was special! Pax, with a vest and tie on, served the tea sandwiches (cut in crown and snowflake shapes), and everyone feasted. It was so much fun! Our first "kid party" was an easy, stress-free success. And our little girlie was thrilled beyond belief!
Blythe Linn, Daddy and I love the vibrant, fancy, twirly, graceful girlieness you bring to our family. Your passionate heart and strong will will carry your small-but-mighty body far in life! We love seeing who God has made you to be continue to develop each year; and helping you pursue the things you love is a joy to us. We pray you would never forget who created you the way you are, or how very much you are loved-by God first of all, and also by us. I had so much fun planning and creating this party with you, B.B. Doll!