Friday, September 21, 2018

Farmer Boys

Harvest is here. The corn is being picked.  The cotton is still growing.  We are listening to Farmer Boy in the car, and waiting for the weather to actually turn cool.  

The boy spent a day down on the farm with my dad this week. Jude and Silas rode in tractors most of the afternoon, learning how to drive. They played with kittens, and looked at stars on top of the grain bins.  When we found hubs, he was covered in grease and wearing overalls.  It's like a little boys' dream world out there. 

The day ended for me with a hasty jump down from the tractor. For the first time in my 38 years, I sprained my foot.  I felt so stupid. B now that the x-ray is in, I'm only relieved that it's not broken. After 6 months of resting stress fractures, a broken foot would be my nightmare.  Hopefully though, in a week, I'll be back up and running! 

The 20th Reunion

I had my 20th high school reunion last weekend.  I'm awkward, so it was a little awkward.  But I am so glad I went.  It was great to hear what people are up to, and remember how much we've all grown in twenty years.  

While I admit that Saturday night social downtown was a stretch for me, the Friday night football game was nothing but fun! The kids loved seeing where David and I went to high school, they had all the Harvest Festival activities out in full force, the campus looks amazing, and I'm the kind of nerd who loves bumping into old teachers.  It was great to reminisce a little at a place that helped shape me!  

And, there were "MemPops," so everyone was happy! 

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The Spelunkers

We had a busy weekend in Nashville. It was full of friends, fellowships, and coffee dates.  At the end of it, we hopped up to Mammoth Caves National Park for an overnight in a cabin with some dear friends.  When I say dear, hear this.  For the past six years through multiple time changes, continents, and seasonsthis friend has called me almost weekly.  For thirty minutes (and no more, because in busy-mom world 30 is a lot!!!) we share our struggles, talk about parenting challenges, catch up on what's going on, and do our best to encourage one another.  And then we pray. This weekend we got to pray in person, right there with the husbands we pray for so often. It was sweet.

And then we went caving. Because with seven kids, we needed some serious activity. The kids are now obsessed with caves. They worked hard on their Junior Ranger books and got a badge. Fat Man's Misery was a life moment for them. When we returned, we ate dinner by lantern light and Silas is still wearing his ranger vest.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Friday Five

1. Hubs told me the kids need to learn better sportsmanship while we are in America. I may have, consequently, gone a little overboard on their sports enrollment. They are loving it. Both boys lost their games this week. And I won't deny that I was screaming on the sidelines like a soccer mom. They handled it well though, and so did I. (I did voluntarily congratulate a rival dad, a.k.a M. Pritchard.) 

2. They also just completed a round at The Pool School. My sis highly recommended their "system" and I admit that I'm sold. They boys loved it and all of them made significant progress. Jude's swim skills were apparently lying dormant. (This is probably because the sea makes me nervous and I don't let him venture far.) He was swimming some serious laps by the final day. 

3. They're signed up for basketball next. (I told you I went overboard.) 

4. Hubs is apparently driving heavy machinery out on the farm. He sends me pictures from the wide open fields and talks with a twang when he calls. He's started wearing coveralls and today he was having lunch at a truck stop when he called. We try to live a varied life. And I think we do. I think Spain to coveralls counts as pretty diverse experience. 

5. This weekend we head to Nashville for some speaking engagements. We are taking all of our children. I have been home alone with the kids since Wednesday, and have successfully homeschooled them this week.  I'm almost packed. Loading may be a different story. We'll pick hubs up on the way to Nashville. We will sleep in three different places over the course of three nights and drive roughly 10 hours. I may or may not be a functional person by next Tuesday. Prayers appreciated:) 

Happy Friday to you! 

Bradley 2018

We drove to Georgia for Labor Day weekend for the "Bradley Family" college reunion.  We actually haven't been to the annual get together in eight years. (Yikes. I didn't realize it had been that long!) I can honestly write that I stepped in the door and felt like it'd only been a year or two. They are the kind of friends that just pick up right where you are. 

I can't stop from wondering what kind of person I would be today if they hadn't been my friends way back then. A lot of my theology has been shaped by late nights in the dorm and porch talks with this crew. It felt good to be home. 

Mom-confession: We left Asher with Grammar and Pop, and the weekend was oh-so-relaxing because of that little choice. To be fair, he didn't miss me either.  He was livin' the dream in grandparent-land.  


Don't worry, he's been in detox all week. 

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Sailing, Sunflowers & Summer's End

Labor Day is upon us, and we're heading south to meet up with a crew of college friends, some of whom we haven't seen in a long while. Before we do though, here are a few moments from the past week, as we wrap up the end of a beautiful summer.  

My dad pulled out the sailboats and had the boys scrub them down. David and I sailed this same boat at Shelby Farms when we were about seventeen years old. I always had to ask guy friends to come along, because I couldn't lift them into the water without a male counterpart. In hindsight, it was probably a paternal ploy to get his shy daughter into the company of good men. I definitely did not think I'd one day be sailing with him and our three kids.  Though let's be honest, my seventeen year old heart probably dreamed it. 

And yes, my dad insults my sailing skills while videoing:) No shame. I can hold my own in a tiny boat race. 

Pop took the boys for an all-American night to see the Redbirds play baseball.  They loved it.  Though no one one made it till the fireworks. Even summer has limits! 

We'll end on some sweet little sunflower pictures with the cousins.  Basically, I think farmers should be required by law to plant a few rows every summer just for public enjoyment. (Are you listening, Dad?) 

Monday, August 27, 2018

The School Store

We're entering our fourth week of homeschool. And we're more than surviving.  We are having fun.  This is primarily due to my kind mother-in-law who repeatedly shows up on my doorstep at 8:30am to whisk Asher away to "Grammar School."

We may or may not have the shortest attention span of any homeschooling family. This isn't the boys' problem, it's mine.

I'd just like to confirm what I've always felt...that homeschooling may not be my forte.  But I think I'm an excellent supplementary teacher.  This means, those big books that help you give your children a systematic understanding of, oh, you know, phonics and mathematics....

They overwhelm me.

However, I'm very consistent with worksheets, storybooks about division and chess games.  And I really love keeping a little grade book.  It feels so accomplished to mark all those boxes!!! We've done handwriting practice while listening to Little Men with such consistency that any homeschool mom would be proud.  And I just ordered some pretty incredible 50 States car workbooks for our trip this weekend. Along with a rap song to learn the 50 states and capitals.

Thank you. 

So I'm comforting myself with the reality that my kids will be back in school in January, and until then I'm pouring lots of information into their little brains, and taking plenty of watermelon breaks with story time attached.

My greatest success thus far, which should tell you plenty about my methodology, has been the "School Store." A veteran homeschool mom tipped me off to this little wonder, and it's been such a hit that I'm considering taking it back to Spain for behavior modification.  All through the week, the kids earn "School Bucks" for things like having a good attitude, paying attention, being super helpful, and today...Silas earned some for not guessing at any words in his reader:) They aren't allowed to ask me for School Bucks.  They are simply allowed to ask things like, "Mom, is there anything I can do that would help you right now?" My household has miraculously become the most helper-laden home on earth.

At the end of the week, they select items from the "School Store," which is glamorously unloaded from an old Aldi box onto my bed.

It's the highlight of the week.

And the school store doesn't just contain toys, it contained privileges like kindle time, basketball with dad, ice cream party for all, etc.  Silas's most recent purchase was for a private bubble bath while sipping a Sprite.  Hilarious.

I know you're all wishing you could shop at my house now.

Happy Monday to you!!!

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Return to Narnia

We spent last weekend at a grand Narnian reunion. It really did feel like stepping through the wardrobe for a night.  We've grown a little since we last saw one another, but that didn't stop the Mississippi hospitality from being poured out in abundance.  It was so fun.  And I may or may not have stayed up waaaaay past my mom-bedtime.

And then, of course, we had to stop in at my Mississippi sister's house for lunch. She has a new house and I'm practically in love with the white washed walls.  I do love some Mississippi decor.  Asher took the ride of his life in a princess carriage.  I think I could have left him at Kayla's house for the week and he wouldn't have even missed me!

I can't fail to mention that I also saw a precious lady who was a mentor to me in college.  She reminded me that we met when I showed up at a "Cottage Prayer Meeting" at her house.  I think I stalked her after that? She listened to me cry about all my boy troubles, talked me through multiple existential crises, and prayed for me a lot. This is a patient woman, and her influence on my life in that season and beyond is a gift.

I walked away from our lunch feeling like fresh wisdom had been poured into me in many areas. And encouraged afresh to seek out the younger women in my path and just listen and pray for them.

When we were at the Narnian dinner, I was reminded that it was move-in weekend at Mississippi College. It was twenty years ago that we moved in as freshman.  Rebekah and I were crying in our dorm room that night, feeling like our world had changed forever.   My college experience gave me a lot of gifts.  But the best gift of all, that keeps on giving to me year after year, is the friendships that grew in that season.  They're like seeds,  planted all those years ago, and when I pull into Clinton I am very aware they've grown into a garden full of all sorts of beautiful fruits and flowers.

It was good to see you, Mississippi.