Saturday, May 27, 2017

Last Day of School 2017

Our kiddos are officially on summer break!  Yesterday was their last day so of course we took their last day of school pics with their first day of school pics and celebrated with ice cream at the park :)  

Of the three, our preschooler had the hardest time with her end of school year... she loved her preschool teachers and class so much that she did not want it to be done. She has grown so much and is already looking forward to kindergarten to start.

Our kindergartner worked so hard this year and we are so proud of him.  He is a bit nervous for first grade next year but already found out once of his friends will be in his class so that helps a bit.  He is very ready for summer fun!

Our second grader had a great year of school, really enjoyed his teacher and made some new friends.  He's excited about his teacher for next year and two of his buddies are in his class.  He is very ready for more lego time and more free time this summer.

As is tradition with our picture sessions, there were absolutely some crazy shots to share as well.  Their silly mood was contagious and filled our morning with smiles.

We are so thankful that they each had wonderful teachers who poured into them all year.  Each kid grew and learned and rose to new challenges.  We are so proud. I can barely believe we'll have a third grader, first grader and kindergartner in the fall.

Let the summer fun begin on the gravelly road!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Counting the Days

We have been a whirlwind of end of school year activities and our kiddos are counting the days until the end of the school year.  They are down to the fingers on one hand, so exciting for the older two, and so very sad for our youngest.

In the last month or so, we've had...

a kindergarten song fest,

2nd grade track and field day (orange shirt),

first camping trip and afternoon of fishing,

preschool end of year program,

Spring dance show, 

and a trip to the zoo.

Of course there were also a few field trips, outside science days, an all school bingo day for the boys and their year-end carnival is this week too.  Plus of course Mother's Day, and then a MOPS Leadership training, and a college department alumni picnic I added to the schedule.

Whew!  So many memories and special moments fitting into our end of school year crazy here at our Life on the Gravelly Road.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Playing with Macro

Last fall my hubby got me clip-on lenses for my iphone.  I'd used the wide lens a handful of times, but over the holidays they got packed in a bag and I didn't get them out again for a while.

Fast forward to last month, I finally joined instagram and started following a number of photographers.  I stumbled on a month long photography challenge (with a giveaway at the end) to post macro photos.  Since I don't have a macro lens for my "big girl" camera, I found my clip-on lenses back to use the macro for my phone.

I've been having a lot of fun.  Macro really makes you slow down, to see the small and beautiful, to pay attention to the intricate details and textures.

Here's some of my favorites from the first part of the month.

Noticing beauty here on our gravelly road.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day

Through the laughter, tears, crazy, silly, whining, smiles, eye-rolls, and wondering "what are they thinking" moments, I'm so blessed to be their mom.

Just some ordinary (or maybe not so ordinary) mothering moments that fill 
our Life on the Gravelly Road.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Stuck on an Island

Several nights in a row, Dad has kept our after dinner conversations interesting by asking the kids questions starting with "If you were stuck on an island...".  Their first responses so varied and sometimes funny so I quickly scribbled some down to save.

If you were stuck on an island and can only bring one thing to ride on what would it be?
Ike: Limo
Zman: Dirt bike
Peaches: Ferris Wheel

... can only bring one type of food to eat what would you pick? (there was much discussion if you would need to be able to store/cook it or if it would just arrive ready to eat daily)
Ike: shrimp
Zman: steak
Peaches: watermelon

... can only have one type of vegetable to eat?
Ike: broccoli
Zman: cucumbers
Peaches: carrots

... an animal to keep you company or help you?
Ike: cows
Zman: gorilla
Peaches: elephant

.... and there is a telephone booth to make one phone call, who would it be to?
Ike: President of the United States
Zman: mommy and daddy
Peaches: Aunt B and Uncle N

... and you could bring either a cook or carpenter along (or instantly know how to do all the things a cook or carpenter could do)?
Ike and Zman: carpenter
Peaches: cook

... and you could bring only one type of hunting equipment?
Ike: hunting gun
Zman and Peaches: Bow & Arrows

Just some interesting after dinner conversations in our Life on the Gravelly Road.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Five Minute Friday: SHOULD

This week I'm again participating in Five Minute Fridays at Kate Motaung's blog, (after another long hiatus) encouraging bloggers to write on a prompt unedited for five minutes.  I'm trying to get back into the swing of writing and decided not to let this prompt get past me, even if I was late.  So I scribbled out my thoughts on the back of a school worksheet I found in my car while I waited for my youngest to be done with preschool so I could transcribe them here when I got home :)

This week's prompt: SHOULD


If I tell the truth, often the SHOULDs stampede my thoughts and take over my mind, often in contradictory chaos.

I should have more quiet time, exercise more often, meal plan so we can eat healthier, take more time to learn or read or take care of myself....

I should parent more peacefully, give more consistent consequences, give more grace, be more involved in their schools, hug more, teach them more chores, play more....

Our summer should be more structured, full of memories, have lots of free time for kids to explore, plan more day-trips, enjoy family time at home...

I should decide what to do next year, find a bigger purpose, use my education, keep staying home, go back to school, find a way to serve my community and church...

I should reach out more often to my friends, write that note, make teacher gifts, bless the neighbor...

These thoughts are certainly not all bad.  But where are all these shoulds coming from?  Experience? Friends? Books? Guilt? Social Media?  The Spirit?  Do I slow down enough to distinguish?

But no matter the voices shouting or whispering... With Christ I am Enough.

I will
Be who I am
Do what I can
Share what I am given and
Love those in front of me.

Deep breath and quiet the Shoulds.


Monday, April 24, 2017

New feathery residents

Another spring routine: adding chickens to our backyard flock.

After sending 5 roosters to the freezer last year, we knew we wanted to add a few more birds this spring... hopefully hens this time.  Despite how tasty those birds were this winter in chicken noodle soup, ending up with 5 roosters out of the 12 birds we bought last year was a bit disappointing.  Since W have 6 grown hens now so we bought 6 baby chickens.  One died right away though so now we are down to 5.  Eleven it about right for a backyard flock.

Many sunny afternoons, we've had the baby chicks out in the yard.

Just another spring glimpse of our Life on the Gravelly Road.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter

Happy Easter from our family on the gravelly road to yours.  He is risen. He is risen Indeed!

As tradition, we took our family photo before going to Easter Sunday church service this morning.

And while the tradition has little to do with the reason we celebrate Easter or the promises that we proclaim while remembering the empty tomb, its a tradition that slows us down a moment as a family amidst the candy and baskets and busy weekend and hurry to get out the door for church.

I'm thankful for each smile, giggle, closed eyes, and goofy face as I comb through our pictures this afternoon.  We have reason to smile because of that first Easter Sunday, hope for tomorrow, victory over the grave.

But before you think we are some angelic crew, here's one of our silly ones...

May you and yours have a blessed Easter weekend.

And while this is just a peak into our day, I'm hoping to share more of our family fun from this weekend but I don't want to miss what's happening right now on the gravelly road.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Book Review: Never Unfriended

I'm honored to share a bit about a book I just finished reading:  Lisa-Jo Baker's "Never Unfriended: The Secret to Finding and Keeping Lasting Friendships".

This is a book to read slowly and savor over cups of coffee, in stolen minutes of rare alone time in motherhood and womanhood.  It encourages you to ponder you own past and present friendships and to better understand how God designs us for friendship and friendship for us.

Lisa-Jo walks readers through four big questions that color how we see friendships: What are we afraid of? What can't we do about it? What can we do about it? and Where do we start?  Then each section is filled with Biblical wisdom and heartfelt personal stories, where Lisa-Jo leads the reader through a model for lasting friendships based on the most authentic and faithful friend who ever lived - Jesus.

I feel a transition of sorts in my own friend life as my kids will soon all be in elementary school -- preschool and little kid playdates are nearing an end with conversations at school, church, and sporting functions are becoming more the norm.  The idea that next fall is the beginning of my last year of MOPS is a somewhat scary thought- meaning I will need to work at being more intentional about my friendships, without the opportunity to gather, encourage and pray with the same group of women multiple times per month.   So much of this book both encouraged and challenged me in so many ways.
"This is the secret to finding and keeping lasting friendships: become women who want to see the women around them flourish."
So many of Lisa-Jo's words resonated in my heart, advice that should be read and considered over again as seasons of life change and friendships ebb and flow.  From being the "new girl" in a group, to conquering the feelings of missing out, to handing tough conversations or conflict and even supporting a friend through times of grief - this is a book that is can apply to women of all ages and walks of life, a blessing to read by yourself or with a group a friends.
"Maybe the most intimate, radical thing we can do for our friends is to show up."
And yet the even more important message is this: "There is a God who would die before He would ever unfriend you.  There is a God who did die rather than unfriend you... He is the only one who can live up to the promise to Never Unfriend you.  It's worth taking Him up on it."

Take some time to check out this new book.  I hope it blesses you as much as it did me.

Just another look at what I've been reading here on the gravelly road.

** I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased feedback. All opinions are my own. **

Monday, March 27, 2017

Fun in a pink dress

Boys were having a sleep over at Grandma's for the start of spring break.  She wanted to get out her fancy dress and take pictures.  How could I say no?  Twirly, smiling fun.

Just a bit of girl time here on the gravelly road.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Happy 6th Birthday!

Happy birthday to our joyful new 6 year old!  Her big smiles, infectious laughter and silly songs fill our home and we can't imagine life without her.  We celebrated her birthday over the weekend with family -- a fancy Princess Elena cake, tons of excitement and so much of fun.  

On her actual birthday, she opened one more present at breakfast, made delicious cake pops with mom for snack with her brothers after school (using a new cooking kit from grandma) and had a special supper of her choosing.

And as is tradition, here are some of the highlights of her year as a 5 year old as told by mom.

* You continue to love everything about preschool!  Last school year you attended two days a week but this fall you started a new preschool (where Zman had gone) five days a week and you have flourished.  It has been a joy to see you make so many new friends, working hard at speech, and soaking up all the fun learning you get to do.  Kindergarten is just around the corner and we can't wait to see God's plans for you there too.

* You are kind-hearted and thoughtful -- making your friends and teachers special notes and pictures at home to bring the next day, asking if I can send a special picture to a loved one you are thinking about, being so excited to dance at the nursing home, and wanting to help where ever you can.

* You started dance this past fall and it has been fun to watch you pour yourself into it.  The first few weeks there were some tears... not about going to dance but that you had to wait a WHOLE WEEK before you got to go back.  You listen well and love to show us all that you are learning.  Keep practicing hard and doing your best -- they are great skills.

* You love to pretend.  Whether you are playing dolls by yourself, house or store with your brothers, or some other imaginary game outside, you love the big stories and adventures.  From a big sister, a veterinarian, a mom, or a princess warrior, I love hearing all the big roles you pick for yourself.  Keep using your imagination to tell the stories inside you and keep dreaming big.

* Drawing, coloring, art and projects are some of your favorite things.  While your brothers are in school in the afternoon, you spend a lot of time at the table drawing pictures and coloring.  You love the projects you do at school and are always asking to do more at home too.  Cooking projects is another favorite and you are so willing to help in the kitchen.  You are loving the special baking sets grandma gave you and they are a very delicious project we can do together.

* You are determined and work hard at all you do.  You don't give up with things are hard even though they frustrate you -- speech, swimming lessons and tball have been big examples in the last year.  Learning to ride your bike without training wheels was a big accomplishment this year and your determination translated into figuring it out in one afternoon of practice.  I know its hard when you are often the smallest in the group at school or with friends, but your determination serves you well and you accomplish so much. 

* You relish your role as the only girl and little sister, even though you ask all the time for a baby sister.  I treasure the times its just the two of us and we get to have girl time and I'm glad you look forward to it too.  As much as they can tease you at times, know that your brothers are looking out for you, especially when you start kindergarten in the fall.

Happy birthday blessings!  Mom and Dad love you so much and pray your year as a 6 year old is full of new adventures, special memories together and lots of learning.  We are excited to see God's plans for you as He continues to mold you into the young lady He has designed you to be someday.
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