Embracing Fall with Joy & Thanksgiving!

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This past month has been full of wonderful surprises and blessings as we push through to the end of the fall semester.  Our oldest has been doing great on his tests, even completing two comprehensive science tests that spanned 4 pages long each!  His grades were fine when he was in public school, but he learns even more complex details for each subject now, and his grades are still averaging out to all A’s with the harder, more complex material!

There’s just no comparison to how much better homeschooling has been as far as actual learning goes.  We’re beyond elated!!!

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And we still love our weekly outings getting to take in the beauty of Texas.  It really is so incredibly beautiful if you know how to seek it out.  I could not believe the incredible fall colors in these pictures (and these are not edited, this is 100% as much as the camera lens could capture – and even more perfect in person)!

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When our kids come back from these outings, I can sense the change in them immediately ❤ they’re calmer, happier, and have this overall sense of well-being as they relax on the car ride home.  They also seem to have a renewed sense of wonder and appreciation for the colors of nature as we’re driving home!  The effects of being surrounded by so much beauty are long-lasting. 😀  I just love it!

I’m so grateful that with the freedom of homeschooling, things like this are doable.

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The ducks, turtles, and egrets around made it even more exciting for them.

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Love having my mom on these trips in the mornings!  She used to paint, so seeing all this beauty in nature really touches her heart, too ❤  And the kids just love being with her – she’s like a real life Mary Poppins in heart and attitude!!!

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Cuties ❤

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They have so many places to just sit and stare at the trees reflected on the water.

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One of my favorite pictures (above), a wooden dragonfly hovering over the still and peaceful water.

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Our boys love hopping over this garden wall.

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Our oldest tried to teach his brother how to play chess, while we just sat there and talked as a couple of hours passed by.  It was so peaceful and relaxing… definitely a luxurious November day.  I do wish we had snow, but then it wouldn’t be as easy to go out and enjoy days like this for as long as we’re able to.

Here’s a link to an article I read (and loved) recently:

Scientists Show How Gratitude Literally Alters The Human Heart & Molecular Structure Of The Brain

From the article,
“Researchers are now discovering that the heart also responds and that it might actually be the heart that’s responsible for sending these signals to the brain. ….

Their work, among many others, has proven that when a person is feeling really positive emotions like gratitude, love, or appreciation, the heart beats out a different message, which determines what kind of signals are sent to the brain.

Not only that, but because the heart beats out the largest electromagnetic field produced in the body, the Institute has been able to gather a significant amount of data.

According to Rolin McCratey, Ph.D, and Director of Research at Heartmath?)

“Emotional information is actually coded and modulated into these fields. By learning to shift our emotions, we are changing the information coded into the magnetic fields that are radiated by the heart, and that can impact those around us. We are fundamentally and deeply connected with each other and the planet itself.” (source)

The article goes on to talk about the mysterious power of prayer… give the article a look for some gratitude inspiration!

Fall

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We are ready for Fall in our house.  My son was telling me how excited he was about Halloween coming up, and I totally share in his excitement!  I can’t wait for the cool breezes and the leaves changing. the cinnamon, apples, and pumpkins.  Sometimes we need a change, maybe that’s why I’ve always loved every season, with it comes fresh, new changes, and growth into new seasons of life.

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I recently instructed a woman in the post My Husband Isn’t Romantic Enough, to keep a gratitude journal by her bed, and every night, to write down something she’s grateful for, and to pray over the list – even with her husband if she wants.  I thought it would be a great idea if I took my own advice and implemented this little ritual into my life.  So, this new season I’ve been keeping a journal that logs my daily activities, thoughts about our kid’s, goals for the day to accomplish and check off, a place to log my emotion (to track depression & what may affect it), spiritual insights from my devotion time, thoughts about our dog (like “vomited in our car today” lol), and then… at the end of the day and at the end of the page, there’s a space for “Gratitude Acknowledgment.”  It really has been a wonderful exercise each night to spend time reflecting on one thing in particular that I’m grateful for – it changes your whole perspective and gives you so much peace before falling asleep.

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I won’t lie though, that first night I tried this, it was hard.  It was a Monday, our busiest day by far, I had been up since 5am, my husband usually does the school run on his own since it’s the only time he sees our son in the day, but that morning, he insisted I had to come.  So we’d already done the school run with the baby in tow, ran a couple of errands together, and then my husband totally surprised me by taking me to a jeweler to order a beautiful Police Wife badge necklace – so sweet!  So unexpected :’) .  I’ve really come to appreciate this new time with him in the morning as being extremely romantic for us – whether it is just running errands together and teasing each other, or having extra time to be intimate when the baby naps.  Even with all this love and us having a great relationship and friendship even, the rest of the day after he left for work took it’s toll on my attitude.  I got the baby down at his naptime, woke the baby up only an hour & a half later (he usually sleep 2-3 hours poor thing), and we had to go pick up bubba (big brother) from school.  Because I let the baby sleep a little extra, I left later than I should have and felt rushed to pick him up on time… something I’ve learned how to handle much better since then!

Picking him up from school is like some kind of marathon when by myself with a baby.  Last week, we were faced with temperatures close to 100 F, and his pickup is on a black top with no tree in sight.  I stay there for about 30-40 minutes, too, so that I can talk and laugh with my mom friends while our kids play together.  It’s the only time I get to see some of these mommies, and even though we were dripping in sweat, our hair even plastered down and wet, it’s well worth it.  After that we make the trek to the car, feeling like we’re crossing some African desert, my huge stroller (that could seriously be a small SUV) holds all our stuff like a caravan traveling through – thank God for ice water!  We then go home, rest, start home work, eat snacks, I let my son watch a cartoon or play, the wild dog 🙂 comes in for some time with us, we dinner, I get him dressed for his sports practice, his little cleats on, change the baby, grab the dog, and travel to his practice for the evening.

Practice is outside, but it’s cooler, and with our dog… there is never a dull moment!  Super loved seeing all the kids, the high schoolers, the people running around the track.  The team we’ve joined is like a family, since they practice 3 nights a week, and see each other 4 days out of 7, you have no other choice 🙂  A 16 year old girl took immediately to Super, and after an hour, I let her take him around – she was ecstatic & so was Super!  He’d fallen in love with her ❤

After getting home, getting my son bathed off quickly and the baby to sleep, I felt like I could barely move.

I wrote my Gratitude Acknowledgement before falling asleep like a baby –

At the end of the day, I feel so exhausted… it’s so freaking hard without (my husband) at night!  I can barely even write! (True, I can barely even read my writing.)  But I’m thankful that I ended well with our oldest son, we had an argument, but I was able to de-escalate it, and keep our relationship loving even though I felt like a zombie.”

Mother’s Day Reflections

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To my boys…. Sitting here, alone in the dark as I type this and reflect on this Sunday being Mother’s Day, I’m overwhelmed with joy at being your mother.  Both of you boys, both of you, are so wonderful, and give me so much joy.  I watch you both sleep, so peacefully in your beds, and I’m amazed and so humbled that God has given you both to me.  It brings tears to my eyes to know how much God has entrusted me with, and I don’t want to fail you.  I want to be the best mother I can possibly be, and I am sorry for all the times I fall short.  I promise to always admit my mistakes, to let you know that I’m human, too, and to treat you both with fairness.  You are both my treasures, and I want you to feel it in the way I interact with you everyday.

To my mother, thank you… we may not have always agreed in the past, but you were and still are, an amazing woman.  I find myself thinking about the things you said when I was a child in your house all the time since I left 8 years ago.  You single-handedly planted so many words of wisdom, so many biblical truths that I still cling to in my heart where they took root, and have blossomed into a garden of wisdom that has guided me so well in these past years.  You planted those seeds, you nurtured them when they were tender young shoots, and watered them for years – never giving up on me, even when I was rebellious and pushed you past your limits, you still loved me and always fought for the best for me.

You helped me become the woman God is making me to be, the mother I want to be to your grandchildren.  You were able to admit your mistakes, you were always ALWAYS so honest with me about every question I had concerning life.  And I am SO GRATEFUL to you.  We still don’t always see eye to eye, but I am so much more in love with you than I’ve ever been, and the love just keeps growing for you.  You did so well, Mom, and I am so proud that I can call you my mom.  Thank you for setting such a wonderful, godly model, even in your imperfections, you were able to teach me humility and wisdom in knowing that I will never be the perfect mother.

To my husband, thank you!!!  Thank you for making me your wife, and giving me these children to raise!!!  You have given me so much joy in being your wife, in getting to support you emotionally and be there for you physically, I absolutely love being your wife, and try to never take it for granted.  You bring me so much happiness everyday with your carefree atttitude, and addictive, teasing playfulness.  You bring happiness to our boys as they simply adore you!

I’m so honored to have had your children.  You were there with me the day an Ob-GYN told me I would likely never be able to have children.  The shock of hearing those words at the young age of 22 was jarring.  But she was wrong.  So very wrong.  God’s blessed us with 2 healthy, beautiful boys – thank you for being the kind of man I want them to grow up and become.  You are already teaching our oldest so many things about being a man, about true masculinity, you set such a great example for him to walk in your footsteps.

Thank you for your sacrifice, for providing so well for us that I am able to stay at home with them for this short time….  Because of you, I’m able to see every smile of our babies’, every milestone they hit, capture it on camera or video for you, and really enjoy this time with them before they go to school.  So thank you, again, so much, for this gift of being the mother of your children.

It really is, such a happy, happy Mother’s Day. ❤

Children are a heritage from the Lord,
    offspring a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
    are children born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
    whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
    when they contend with their opponents in court..”

Psalm 127:3-5

Leaves, Seeds, Classroom Gardens & Gratitude this Thanksgiving

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This fall has been so wonderful… after a fun-packed October with crazy things to do each weekend, we’ve had a peaceful & pleasantly cold November.  It’s been the perfect month of baking, adventuring, and excitedly anticipating Thanksgiving and Christmas.  We are so excited and have had fun decorating for fall.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  I started my son on science project of having a simple “classroom garden,” where he has taken the time to plant seeds and watered and watched them grow.  In October, one of the treats he received at our beautiful Botanical Garden Halloween festival, was a zip-lock bag with wet paper towel and beans.  It was fascinating for us to watch the beans break open and become embryos with little roots.  They are now over a foot tall, and my son has pride in his little garden he’s taken care of.

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My son’s little hand holding his first pulled weed!

His first baby sunflower plant.

His first baby sunflower plant.

Bean growing science experiment for our classroom garden!

Bean growing science experiment for our classroom garden!

It’s so beautiful to watch something grow – it’s a miracle really when you watch so closely… everyday with the beans they were just so radically different.

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As Thanksgiving has drawn nearer and nearer this past few weeks, I’ve been reflecting on how grateful I am for all the gifts in our life.  Our life is in no way, perfect, but we are so happy… so content with what we have right now.  I’m at the 35 week pregnancy mark, and so thankful it’s been an easy, low-stress pregnancy.  Every little kick, every rolling motion as he turns over inside me, has me constantly anticipating seeing him and holding him.

It rained this weekend - and our Esperanza became like a crystal gem with the water droplets.

It rained this weekend – and our Esperanza became like a crystal gem with the water droplets.

Looking back over the past three Thanksgivings and noting how different our life has been from 3 or 4 years ago, has also been a beautiful reflection in the positive changes we’ve made in our family.  I think last Thanksgiving was particularly beautiful – we were just so grateful for all the good and the bad that had happened the year before – my husband and I both felt like we were just being blessed over and over again, and were simply there holding our hands out to catch all of God’s blessings He was pouring down on us.

I remember waking up that Thanksgiving morning… we made love that morning before the sun was up – thanking God for each other – it was amazing to wake up so aware of feeling gratitude for each other & for our life.  This year I feel so much the same… the gratitude, again, has just been building up inside of me all of November.

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It rained this past weekend, and my son wanted to go out and play in the puddles & the rain.  I’m not a picky Mommy about stuff like that, I actually want him to experience the carefree mindset of playing in the rain.  It wasn’t cold at all, so I grabbed his brand new (adorable) rain coat, let him wear his crocs since his boots got packed up when we were helping friends move (haha… no good deed goes unpunished!), and got out towels for when he came back in.  He had a blast jumping in the muddy puddles and letting the rain fall on his head from the drains.

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He slugged the ball so hard the bat broke!  It was admittedly a skinny bat... lol, but he got so surprised!

He slugged the ball so hard the bat broke! It was admittedly a skinny bat… lol, but he got so surprised!

The next day was so fresh & bright – really a nice contrast to the rainy dreary grayness of the weekend.

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