Fall Ain’t so Bad…

That time change came just in time to save my sanity!  I’ve enjoyed waking up in the SUNLIGHT for a change!  Of course, the trade-off is driving home in the dark every night.

But, the leaves have really become  so absolutely gorgeous.  The kids have been playing outside and we’ve been taking bike rides just to enjoy the cooler weather and beautiful views.   Here is some of what we’ve been doing the last few days:

Technically this is an "Ali-Alley-Oop"!


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We’ve Had a Breakthrough…

After years of living this way, we’ve finally had a breakthrough…an epiphany of sorts…or a birth of something wonderful….more like a dusty, dirty disaster!   Progress has it’s price!

Years ago, when we were living in our little camper-trailer (emphasis on LITTLE), we (the kids and me) guilted Darin into turning his shop into our living room/school room.  It worked really well.  We had room for our couches, dining room table, book shelves and even our washer/dryer and deep freezer.  We settled in very well…sleeping in the camper at night but basically living in the 15×30 foot room by the day.

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Homeschooling…The 5 R’s: Readin’, Writin’, Rithmatic, Ridin’ and Remodelin’…


Our schoolroom.


I’ve never understood why everyone doesn’t homeschool their children.  I’ve wanted to homeschool my children before I even knew I was going to have children!  It was just something I was passionate about the first time I heard a story of the notion.  I remember telling Darin about wanting to homeschool when we were first married and he thought I was crazy.

Later, when we were both crazy, we embarked on a long but happy career of homeschooling our kids!  Darin is the Principal and Substitute Teacher.  He gets the respect.  I’m the regular teach…I get the fun!!

Today Darin walked into the “school room” (aka Dining Room) and made a gasp (just to be funny).  I’m sitting there in my bathrobe teaching Phonics…isn’t that what everyone wears?  It was cold…I like my bathrobe and our dress-code is a bit lenient!

Homeschooling hasn’t been easy.  At times it’s been grueling and I’ve wanted to fire myself.  But it’s absolutely the only thing I would ever consider doing.  I know my kids better than anyone on this planet…I know their tendencies, their weaknesses, their giftedness and I’m prepared to change my methods to help make their strengths more obvious and their weaknesses honed into assets.  And more important than anything, everything we learn is sifted through Genesis 1:1. God created Math and English and Science…even Algebra.  That is what makes homeschooling so worthwhile. I’m not just teaching so my kids will be gifted, but to know they are a gift.  I’m not pushing them to be geniuses but to have a Christian worldview that makes them know the genius of God.

Today we had our classes all going at the same time, as usual.  I’ve never been very good at juggling…2nd grade math with 7th grade science…phonics with algebra…grammar with biology!  But, somehow, it all goes along pretty smoothly.  The older boys are doing a study of Christ through the four gospels.  Ian and Ali are starting with the Old Testament.  We’re practicing our handwriting and writing our lab reports.  Thank the Lord I have Jacob to be my able-bodied assistant!  He keeps everyone organized and on schedule.  He fills in and teaches Ian & Ali’s math when I’m at work.  And he runs a mean copy machine…


Brock & Braeden had a science experiment...notice the eye protection! Safety first!

Now sometimes people find out we homeschool and worry that our children are “sheltered” or “poorly socialized”.  I have alot of really good answers to those comments that I usually keep to myself to avoid losing my Christian witness (is idiot in the Bible?).

But, speaking of “sheltered”…my poor kids.  We went on a bike ride today.  I had promised we would take to the open road and do a little spin around the neighborhood.  I know this sounds normal to most of you but for us it was a first time event.  Not because I’m sheltering the kids…I’m simply lazy.  And it’s not really because I’m all that lazy, we just have never had everyone up and riding bikes before.  But, the time had come so we did it.

I will back up this little story by saying the last time we (Jesse, Jacob & Brock) rode a bike on concrete was at least 4 years ago when we lived in Verdigris.  The boys would ride up and down the street.  Braeden had a horrible time learning to ride a bike (I think it’s called fear) so he stuck to his roller blades but Brock rode a few times before we moved to the country, where everything is rocky and downhill with the exception of the places that are wooded.

Ian and Ali learned to ride their bikes out here on the gravel and grass…to me that makes them incredibly talented….or desperate.  They work HARD going up and down the gravel driveway or out in the bumpy grass…really hard.  And some of the time they didn’t have working hand-brakes.  It was like a science class right there…gravity, momentum, inertia…pain.

But, we dusted off my bike and Braeden took the it’s helm.  Brock got his chain lubed up and raised his seat as far as it could go.  Although he looked a bit peculiar with his knees rising above the steering wheel, he said he could handle it.  Ian mounted his steed after his hand-brakes were fixed.  And Ali, the wisest one in the bunch, donned her safety helmet and took off on her “girl bike”.

Me?  I walked.  It was the strangest bike-ride I have ever been on!  I couldn’t figure out how to coast!!



My biker gang...

The kids rode their bikes halfway down our driveway to the hill then got off and walked their bikes up the remainder of the half-mile journey to the gate.  Then the magic happened…we opened the gate and they pedalled onto the asphalt and glided down the road….glided…and coasted….and glided….!

I felt horrible.  Ian said, “Mom, thank you so much for letting us ride.  Look, I’m coasting”.  Brock said, “It’s like riding on glass!”. Braeden added, “This is my first time to ride a bike on a real road”.


We had fun.  We went about 1 1/2 miles down the road and back again…up hill both ways.  I had just a bit of trouble keeping up since they were gliding and coasting and speeding WAY ahead of me.  We learned “road etiquette” and I’m sure the neighbors now think Ian’s name is “MOVE OVER”. But the kids were over-joyed.  They were ready to go mile after mile after mile (until they realized their rear-ends were getting a bit sore.).  Jacob & Ruthie joined us as well and their tails were dragging by the time we got home!



Ruthie joined the pack.

But, we can’t play all the time.  So, part of being in the Ponderosa School of Reality is we had to do a little manual labor.  The boys mixed up some loads of concrete and hauled them into the house where Darin was doing some foundation repair on our new addition.  Ian and Ali had already helped Darin rip up some floor boards and dig some holes in the ground. They just needed the concrete!



Hard at work mixing concrete...one load after another until 16 loads were completed.

It was a very ingenious plan to pour the concrete through the floor boards!  It was also a very messy plan…but, once completed the floor will be braced to stop the floor joists from being a bit too “limber”.  Live and learn…



The concrete made it's way into the new addition one load at a time...16 trips.

By the end of the day we were tired.  We had learned about vowel-consonant blends, practiced our downstrokes, read a book about the red jet, told time on the hour, read Genesis 1, reviewed all our adverbs, studied the origins of science, blew up a balloon with vinegar & baking soda, solved for x, figured out that evolution is simply a hypothesis and NOT a theory nor a fact, reduced fractions, reminded ourselves that anything is possible with God, started chapter 9 of “The Swiss Family Robinson”, discussed Christopher Columbus (his real name was Cristoforo Colombo!), found the Tropic of Cancer and Capricorn and refreshed our memories about gerunds.

We also explored distant lands on our bikes and built a firm foundation.

And when all was said and done it was a GREAT day, just like I imagined years ago when Darin thought I was crazy…


Happy Birthday Darin!

Birthdays are big around here…like the number FORTY-FOUR!!  Don’t believe a word of it when he tells you he’s 39…again.

The kids surprised Darin with Krispy Kreme donuts in bed, wonderful gifts like Coca-Cola, Biscoff Cookies & Reeses Cups.  Then it was pizza for lunch…a Ding-Dong Cake from Merritt’s Bakery (Yummmmy) and then the grand finale…supper at the Olive Garden.  The best surprise was the singing waitresses…always a fun thing to try to get away with.  I believe Darin’s words were, “Just wait until your birthday…revenge is mine!”.

Donuts….chocolate….pizza….chocolate…endless breadsticks…chocolate…that, my friend, is a GOOD DAY!!



We got to the bottom of the driveway to see this...color peeking through that I didn't even notice the day before!

Last year Darin took this picture to make a real estate flyer for our property.  It really was a gorgeous picture.  He wanted to be reminded of what the Ponderosa looks like when it’s green and lush…unlike what we saw today when we got home from church.  Suddenly, the trees are changing on us!  I guess Fall really is here. We didn’t notice it yesterday…but, today it just showed up unannounced!
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Old MacDonald Had a Farm…

Old MacDonald had a farm.  I love that song…he was the envy of my childhood heart!  A cow, a duck, some geese, a horse, some chicks.  That guy had it going on.

But, now that I have some time to consider poor Mr. MacDonald, I think he missed the point of the farm.  He didn’t mention the peace-and-quiet, the tranquility, the sunsets at night over the herd, the steam that rises off the pond in the morning.  Poor guy must have forgotten to take his eyes out of the barn!

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Ups and Downs….

Ian and Ali invented their own teeter-totter thanks to a 2x4 and the bucket to Darin's tractor.

Ian and Ali invented their own teeter-totter thanks to a 2x4 and the bucket to Darin's tractor.

Life is full of ups and downs…I guess it just depends on which end of the scale you’re on! Up is good…but, it’s a long way down. And if you have an ornery brother who weighs more than you, the down can be abrupt and painful!

This spring has been interesting. The clinic continues to grow. We have nearly 800 client families in our files representing nearly 2000 animals. I have the best staff in the world. We have fun every day, even when some of our clients push us to the end of our sanity.

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