Summer Break

The first week of our summer break wraps up today and if it is any indication the next fifteen weeks or so will fly by. When I was a kid the summers seemed to last forever. Who am I kidding? When I was a kid time seemed to last forever! Now it just zips right along whether I am having trouble keeping up or not and the saying ‘the days are long and the years are short’ has taken on a deeper truth than ever before.

I always want our summers to have some substance to them. I don’t want our kiddos just vegging in front of the television because in my experience their brains turn to mush and it makes them cranky. It takes planning and preparing for that to not be the default though. And balance. We want them to be busy but not for the sake of just being busy. We want it to have purpose and hopefully be helpful to someone. But we also want to remember it is summer break. It needs to be fun and relaxing.

The other day a friend posted something about wanting less of a schedule and more of a rhythm to their summer and I thought, “Yes! That is it exactly.” The first week we usually keep pretty low key and let the girls sleep in. They’ve done pretty well on that front in the way that only teenagers can. We took the new ferry service around Pensacola Bay on Tuesday and that was a lot of fun. Sarah will move into her first apartment this month and Emily started a new job. Rob and Sam took a road trip to Texas and next week Rob and I will be heading to the ACCS conference. Abby and Claire both made the volleyball teams and practice will be starting up.

I’m excited about blogging again and after the conference next week I am sure I will have lots of thoughts to work through. I know it is a conference for classical schools and teachers but the overlap with parenting is always there. Plus, after hearing former Trinitas teacher and long time friend Josh Gibbs speak at our graduation last weekend I am already asking myself some pretty big questions. Mainly, if it’s not enough to just send your kid to a classical Christian school what does a classical family look like? How can we bring more harmony and connectedness between church, family and school life?

If you used to keep up with my former blogs you might remember something I liked to call Friday Funny. I think it will make the occasional appearance here and today is it inaugural debut.

IMG-7023We have two cats, Tom and Milo, that we dearly love. But Milo can be a bit, shall we say, needy? He loves to be in the back bedroom of the two oldest girls and will whiiiiiine until he is allowed in. Well Sarah is a nurse working nights so some days he just cannot be in there. But does he understand that? Of course not, so he drives the rest of us crazy carrying on trying to convince us to let him in. The other day Samuel had had enough and remembering that the cats hate the vacuum cleaner he went and parked it in the hallway by the girls’ room. Worked perfectly! That was some smart thinking.

Have a good weekend, y’all!

DPP ~ Day 3

This kid.

Oh, my goodness does he make me smile. He is so full of exuberance and life. He didn’t ask to be on the running team. He asked if he could retire after his first race. He tells his coach that he is going to be too busy next year to run.

But he puts in his miles faithfully each week without complaint and without being told he needs to do it. And he is quick to encourage his teammates to keep going and not give up. (Which is really funny because in the beginning right in the middle of practice he would just decide he was done and stop and walk.)

On race day he is all there. Ready to run, ready to enjoy the pre/post race party.

This morning he bounced into my room, where I was still sleeping thank you very much, and in a very Tigger-esque kind of way free styling his favorite geico commercial, “Guess what day it is, Mom? Guess what day it is?”

Race Day!

He was so proud of his time. His coach had given him a 23 minute goal for the USO Airport run. He came across the finish line at 21:59.

He could have come in faster and slower though as far as I am concerned. I love this boy so much just because of who he is and how he lives his life…so fully and wholeheartedly.

 He looks more than just a little like his proud father standing behind him doesn’t he?

DPP ~ Day 2

For the last eight years or so I have participated in a fun photo challenge each December. I didn’t label the image in yesterday’s post as part of the project but it was the official start of the photo-a-day for the next 25 days.

Today, I did some work at my kid’s school and then finished up by taking some fun pictures of the senior class. That means that I easily shot over a thousand pictures today. (My eyeballs are tired y’all!)

No reason in particular that I choose this one other than I liked the composition. I literally held the camera over their heads and pressed the shutter. It’s of our K5 class excitedly playing a math game dreamed up and developed by their teacher. It has dice to roll and nickles, dimes, and pennies for counting. You should have heard the giggles and seen the little eyes alight with pleasure. They were enjoying their math lesson!

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What’s Up

So the blogging is sporadic but it is happening and that’s good, right? It’s something anyway.

It’s been a busy few days around here.

Last Thursday was Grandparent’s Day at the kids school and then on Friday we had our annual gala/auction. It’s one of the two major fundraisers we do each year and a personal favorite because it’s an excuse to get all gussied up and be fancy. My friend loaned me her dress and I looooved the lacey bottom!

Saturday morning the girls and I went to a baby shower that had a woodland theme. How precious is this little hedgehog cheese ball and cute owl veggie tray. Pinterest is the bees knees for ideas, y’all!

Saturday evening I spent some time with a lovely family doing some generation pictures. Those are some of my favorite sessions. There is something really special about seeing where God has taken the love of two people and multiplied it.

Sunday was a lovely reformation celebration at church complete with games and face painting.

The church also surprised Rob with a really fun birthday gift. There is a long running joke within the church and suffice it to say that among other things Rob will be the proud owner of a pair of cowboy boots as soon as he can get to the store with his gift certificate.

Monday was a fun Halloween night complete with friends, hot dogs and mac-n-cheese, and giant marshmallows. One hundred thirty-five chocolate dipped giant marshmallows to be exact along with 4 gallons of lemonade and three pitchers of ice water. Everyone is always so grateful for the drinks and I wonder why it took me so long to come up with the idea of that simple show of hospitality for the neighborhood?

Hoping things will slow down a little but we’ll see. November is here and that pretty much puts the holiday season in high gear.

So what are you up to?

So It Begins

I love the first day of school. It’s so full of promise and opportunity.

For now at least the kids will rise eagerly from their beds and ready themselves without much prodding from me.

I think Claire in particular will have the greatest year. Her class will start with Charlie and The Chocolate Factory but then they will dive head first into their medieval studies…a time in history that she became infatuated with over the summer. They’ll read King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and one of my favorites, Robin Hood.

Abigail will be reading all kinds of church history and CS Lewis. She will also be reading another of my favorites, Beowulf. I want to read at least one of the kids books this year and since I’ve never read Dante’s Inferno  I think that will be on my list.

Sam will read Frankenstein (I read it with Sarah her ninth grade year) and Pride and Prejudice. I have admitted this before although I don’t talk about it often (not something I find in common with many of my classical friends I guess) but I am not a huge fan of Jane Austen’s work. However, I will read it this year with him, and maybe sit in on some of the lectures and discussions. Who knows, maybe my position will change?

Emily will have a big year. It has often be said that the junior year at Trinitas is one of the most difficult years. She will be reading another of my favorites, Canterbury’s Tales, and I am looking forward to revisiting it. I may or may not read Romeo and Juliet too.

Sarah is already into her sophomore year of college and finishing up her prereqs for nursing school. I am going to bypass The Nature of Disease and read Something Wicked This Way Comes, one of her favorites.

Abby and Claire will both take part in the Medieval Feast in the spring and I hope to go with Emily to New York for the jr/sr aesthetic trip. And I’ve heard there are some exciting things in store for Sam and his biology class in particular.

It looks like the school year is shaping up to be busy but lots of fun!

Autism and Friendship ~ A Classmate’s Perspective

I’ve been doing the weekly autism blog post every April for years now and this was the first time I shared posts written from other people’s perspective. Even though these are all people in my life it was interesting and moving to read their words and see what they see. I’m glad we did it this way and I hope that if you’ve been reading the posts that you’ve enjoyed them as well.

I waffled back and forth a lot before asking the author to share his perspective for this post. The other three were written from the perspective of family member or a long time family friend. Also, all grown ups. But this last one, the last perspective I wanted us to hear, is from one of Sam’s peers.

Community has always been a big deal to Sam and even before he became a student at Trinitas he knew everybody. He would pour over the girls’ yearbooks each year memorizing names and faces. Community has been a big deal for us too as we have walked this journey on the road of autism.  Life with autism is a beautiful complication made easier through the communities of family and friends.
We wouldn’t be where we are with Sam if it hadn’t been for the love and support of the people around us.

It is a whole other blog post to explain what I mean about community and maybe I will write it in the future, but for now let me just make it clear that I am not talking about tolerance. It’s not enough to just have people around you that are willing to overlook or humor certain autistic behaviors. Understanding limitations and taking them into account is one thing, low expectations and excuse making is another.

When I asked the parents of one of Sam’s classmates about writing something for this series I knew it was risky, it felt more vulnerable. But we also trusted this family because we’ve seen the way they’ve raised this young man and the kindness he has always shown Sam. We’ve seen him reach out to try and help Sam deal with a hard minute or just include him in the day to day life at school. (I should note that while I did ask this family to write the blog post specifically it’s not just because he is the only one to treat Sam this way. Thankfully, this is the norm for our school community to varying degrees.)

From Clark ~

Having Sam in my class is both challenging and enjoyable.  You always have to remember that you have to treat him differently and that some things he cannot control.  You have to forgive the things that annoy you and always remember that you are friends.  You cannot laugh at things that are not normal and you cannot allow your other classmates to lead you astray.  Everyone has their highs and lows, Sam is no exception.  While he might struggle in some areas his cartoons are a gift from God.  Where I can only draw stick figures, Sam can create incredible comics and never runs out of clever dialogue with witty puns and plays on words to go with them.  He is very gifted and a good friend.

Short and sweet and to the point, huh? But it so perfectly reflects some truths that I think we can all be reminded of. Loving people, being in relationship with each other whether there is autism or not, requires something from us. We have to be forgiving. We all annoy each other sometimes. We all can be thoughtless or unaware. We need to be willing to see beyond our differences. We need to look for the good in each other.

In a nutshell we all need grace.  This isn’t the first time we’ve seen that life could be a little sweeter if we all lived a little more autistically. 


A Father’s Perspective     A Sister’s Perspective     A Teacher’s Perspective 

Life With Autism ~ A Teacher’s Perspective

We’ve have been extraordinarily blessed that Sam is able to attend the same classical Christian school that his sisters attend. It hasn’t always been this way, we homeschooled until sixth grade. You can read more about the beginning of his Trinitas adventure here.

For today I’d like to share a post written by one of Sam’s teachers. I cannot adequately express how thankful we are by the teachers and godly people that are part of Sam’s life…our life. We are truly rich.

From Mr. Butcher ~

As his brother in Christ, I have known Sam from the time my family joined the local Church congregation where Sam was already a member. His tall, gangly form, impossible to miss, has always been overshadowed by his equally heightened, gangly humor. Sam is the guy I could always count on for a bone-crunching hug, a litany of puns (of which I am most fond), and complete emotional transparency (refreshing and alarming at once). My first experience with Sam as a student was in a typing class, where his understanding of computers and proficiency in typing speed and accuracy eclipsed his fellow classmates. When he wasn’t being required to type lessons on the keyboard, he would often draw cartoons offering visual witticisms that were either related to his own loves, or those of his teachers, or classmates.  
It is unusual to have students who enter into the life of the teacher beyond those unavoidable, and often embarrassing ways, such as noticing verbal ticks or gestural patterns—those teacherly blemishes that become fodder for student amusement. That Sam and I share a love of puns, cartoons, and Star Wars doesn’t hurt, but a great thing about Sam is that he desires to connect his loves and his humor to the material that the teacher desires to present. This year I have Sam in logic—our last class of the day—a subject he loves far less than typing, and yet he brings the same inspirational talent of turning seemingly unrelated academic substance into hilarious visual comic strips and verbal puns is truly unparalleled. In other words, he has an innate desire to make the material into his own existence—not perhaps always in the wisest ways, but most assuredly with genuine interest. The pure delight that Sam exhibits when I put a logical fallacy into the mouth of Yosemite Sam, or when Sam offers me his own example of an Ad Hominem from the masked mouth of Kylo Ren often punctuates our days together.
Sam also exhibits another rare human capacity in those times when his frustration with logic puzzles or with his fellow students overwhelms him. I cannot think of a single instance where Sam wasn’t eager to make things right with me or with his classmates. Granted that his idea of what it means to make something right isn’t always the express image of Christ, Sam is a modern marvel: a man in whom there is no guile. As a teacher, Sam refreshes my joy for what I teach, testifying to the variety of ways in which a subject can compel interest. As a fellow disciple of Christ, Sam reminds me of the value of an honest acknowledgment of good and evil. May all teachers be blessed to have a few students like Sam in their lifetimes!

Back To School

It’s paper and pencils.

New shoes and socks.

Early bed times and afternoon snacks.

Homework, quizzes and tests.

Field trips and projects; PE and recess.

We are in our third week of school already. Also, our first year with a college student. That alone has been an adjustment and has prompted discussions and lots of stories. On her second morning of class Sam bombarded Sarah with questions with no pause for her to actually answer him.

“How is UWF?Do you like your teacher?Have you made any new friends?”

I’m happy to say that she is doing just fine and handling this new world just fine

Our sophomore is doing great. So happy to be done with Latin and diving right into Greek and just overall doing really well with her studies. She is steady and sure as she transitions into the Rhetoric stage of school.

Sam.

Sam is once again proving that autism is a gift in our lives…a gift heavy at times for sure, but a gift nonetheless. How he interacts and processes information is so different from “typical” people that it forces us to interact with information that isn’t new to us in a way that makes it fresh. It causes us to find new ways and new words to explain things long understood and almost made boring by that long held understanding. When he is working through reading and hearing lectures on Eusebius and wants to know how the new man is different from the old man just quipping about the old man being dead and all things being made new really isn’t going to cut it. Talking about being a Christian in light of that death and resurrection in a way that he will begin to grasp enlivens the conversation and makes you continue to ponder the grace of God and what He has actually done to us long after Samuel has closed his books and headed to bed.

Abby is new to logic school and if you know much about classical education then you understand that is a significant shift. She had a great summer and really stepped up to some new and more mature responsibilities though so I am confident she will find her feet soon and be just fine. The sweet child will serve you in any way that you need. She will love you to pieces and make you as comfortable as she can possibly make you. But taking notes and keeping up with assignments and studying abstract concepts requires a lot more than she is used to giving. I am reasonably sure that I will have more gray hair at the end of this year then I am starting with. I think seventh grade is one of the hardest transitions in life…especially for girls. But she will be fine. I will be fine. At least that is what Rob keeps telling me.

Our little third grader is doing just fine and dandy and about what you’d expect. Her teacher has already told her that if she ever needs a substitute then she will be sure to give Claire a call since she thinks she can tend everybody’s business anyway. I’m so thankful for a teacher that will love my child in spite of her bossiness. It’s going to be a great year for her and I am excited for her.

All in all back to school is going just fine for all of us. We’re feeling our way along, seeing what needs to be tweaked and changed to meet the needs of each and bed time is a welcome friend in the evenings after doing Latin and science and Bible history.

Speaking of Bible history…Claire is learning about various Old Testament stories and the book of Judges. Without fail whenever we are studying her card about wicked King Eglon and how Ehud defeated him I find myself humming the theme song from Ghost Busters…Eglon gets jumbled in my head to Egon. Every single time.

Ridiculous, isn’t it?

This post is part of a blog circle that I participate in once a month with some fabulous friends literally from all over the world. Be sure to take a minute to click through the links tot heir posts on being back in school. You’ll be blessed and encouraged and get to see some really great pictures.

Julie   Tim  Connie  Patricia

A Back to School Tea

A few weeks ago Emily hosted a tea for the 9th through 12th grade girls. I didn’t have to do much but talk through the planning stuff and then she pretty much handled everything else. She enlisted the other sophomore girls to help with the food after deciding on the menu, she wrote out all of the invitations, and figured out the decorations.

Originally she was thinking something along the lines of a vintage chic look with old books and paper flowers. But in the process of looking at proper table setting ideas we came up with an idea that changed the direction but she pulled it off beautifully.

Instead of using place cards to seat the girls in a way that would encourage the girls to mix and mingle she made them all a name plate. Since she would need to use Sharpie pens and they only come in certain colors she nixed the vintage look and the plates became a charger with a clear glass plate on top for eating. The girls each got to take their plate home with them as a gift.

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She added some bright colored flowers to the table and kept things simple but quite lovely.

The idea for using Sharpies on plates is all over Pinterest but I’ve never seen anything like this. It took her a little over a week to make the plates which were 88 cents each from Walmart. The really fun thing to me is how adaptable this is. Can you imagine the holiday plates you could do? A bridal shower with monograms or using paper plates for a kid’s party with clear plastic plates on top? So fun!

This one sat on the front porch with a bouquet of flowers to welcome the girls.

And The Winners Are

Each year the school has an art contest and it really is fun to see what all of the kids, not just my own, come up with.

Claire entered her autumn collage she made in class at the beginning of the year. It really is lovely and she was so proud of it! I was rather proud of myself for not loosing it since she brought it  home in December. I sort of have a reputation for putting things somewhere “safe” and then not remembering where the “safe” place is.

The other three usually enter the photography portion…no surprise there I guess but I do not do much more than hand over my camera. I have a hallway that I think is going to become a gallery space for their pictures. They’re pretty good.

Abby actually one second place for her age division! I really liked it’s homey, almost folk arty look.

Sam also took a picture of Milo, who was being more cooperative as a model than Tom. Which is a bummer because Sam was hoping to enter a picture of Tom, whom the kids enjoy calling Tubby Tubs, so that the school would announce that the winner is Tubby Tubs which they find to be hysterically funny for some reason.

Although Tom Tubby Tubs didn’t have his picture entered into the contest Sam did, in fact win. He actually won first place and we were told that his smile was huge and his happiness with that honor was quite visible.

Emily didn’t place this year but she did put in two images. One she took when she second shot a wedding with me and a neat macro shot.

I really enjoy a good macro shot and this one up close and personal of a push pin is fun.

They all did great and we’re looking forward to being creative this summer. Only two weeks left!

Woot!