Busy Life!

It is a beautiful sunny day here and we just finished school! Some days we get done sooner and other days we fit school in and around errands or visitors, of which we had 3 today! Most of the time, visitors are a welcome break!!

Here is a picture of our cute house!! We really are loving it here. The space is so nice and is just working better for us, all the way around. The only thing that is bugging me is that we are trying to locate the source of an unpleasant rotten egg smell. The landlords had the plumber out but it hasn’t been fixed yet. Hopefully soon!  

This is the only picture I have taken of the inside so far:) We are still finishing up unpacking a few last boxes, finding homes for belongings and hanging up pictures. It is really starting to look like a home! Our home;) This is a picture of one wall in the bathroom, where we have tons of built in storage! This takes the place of a hall closet, which we don’t have. I do like the large bathroom a lot.

We had a chance to go apple picking the day after our move briefly. We were really tired but we absolutely cannot pass up a chance to get fresh apples! We may possibly have gone twice this year:)

Cute Mr. Z!

Samuel pretending to eat an apple to make daddy jealous!

Cutie Patootie!

My mom adores her apples, too!

This was the first apple picking. It was much warmer that day!

Zakkai enjoyed trying to climb up to find the most perfect apples!

Checking out how tall everyone is! (or isn’t….:)

Getting taller….

And taller!! This kid is catching up to me quickly!

We have a cute backyard to mow now. We were able to get an old push mower at an auction for $6! Zakkai LOVES to mow the lawn and begs to do so any chance he gets. This was the day we got it and he seriously spent at least an hour mowing that day:)

Z letting Eliana help:)

Mr Z also belt-tested last week for his green belt!

He did really well and is very proud of his new belt (which he was about to receive in this pic!) He is starting some new fun things with this next belt, including using sticks for special routines. We are so thankful that he has the opportunity to do this!

We have officially entered the “busy season” of our life. We were in denial for awhile, fooling ourselves into thinking it was temporary but we looked at each other this past weekend and said, “I think it’s going to be this way for the next several years!” (possibly with a sigh and a groan!

Between settling in to our new place, school, TKD, baseball, ballet, and Awana, our days and evening are really full. We may or may not be looking forward to the end of baseball season so we can have a couple of our weeknights back again. Thank the Lord for fall and winter!!

Remind me I said this when we are knee-deep in snow in a few months:)

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Fullness!

We just finished Day 6 of the “Thomas Family Homeschool,” as the heading of some of our worksheets say. (thanks to Daddy!) Things are going really well so far. Mostly. It is definitely going to take some time to adjust to the schedule, get the boys back into the routine of working again and figure out how to protect our school time from other intrusions and fit in other responsibilities.

The first day, last Wednesday, the boys and I just went over everything that we are going to do for the year. I showed them their binders that I put together, all the books I got, talked about the different subjects we will cover, let them ask questions, etc. It took longer than I thought it would and I was totally exhausted at the end of it!!:)

Thursday we did a little work in the a.m. and then had to take Eliana to the dr for yet another ridiculous mosquito reaction!

That is just one mosquito bite! It went from the size of a pea right before she went to bed Wed night, a quarter by Thurs morning and an apple by Friday morning! It was really hot to the touch and swollen and she was beyond miserable, crying that it hurt her so bad. We got a cream to help her and it is mostly gone now!

We had our lighter school schedule Friday and started full-time Monday. We have definitely had some meltdowns and attitude issues but we are working on that. I have already had to tweak a couple things with our schedule to make things run more smoothly and I think I will have to do that a few more times these first few weeks, as we figure out what works/what doesn’t work.

I told the boys that I think they’ve learned more in the last 6 days than they did in 6 months last year!! You think I am joking….

We start out our mornings, after breakfast and exercise (MWF) with devotional/prayer time (definitely the best way to start out the day!), followed by calendar time. During that time we fill in daily planners, mark the day, weather, etc. and get ready to start! Monday through Thursday, the boys are doing English, Math, Spelling, Literature/Reading, Writing/Narration, Science, History/Geography and some kind of fine arts. Most subjects are in 20 minute increments. Just enough to get good work done, not enough to overwhelm them! (or me…)

The boys are learning Latin and Spanish. Ben does the former, I am doing the latter with the boys using a really neat language program called Mango that we access for free through the library! I am really amazed at how quickly they pick up on the language. They may complain about having to do two languages sometimes but they actually mostly enjoy it. And if they think two is hard, they have nothin’ on their Daddy! He learned at least 9 over the course of his Ph.D!

(Z working on spelling words. They choose a different way to practice every day!)

Little Sweetie Pie is doing homeschooling, too! We weren’t able to send her to her preschool for financial reason along with the disruption to our schooling schedule it would cause. It was a hard choice for us but she is very happy to be home with us learning! She has worksheets that she does and her own little pink binder:) She loves to pull it out each day and practice writing her name (she is working on lower case letters) and doing her worksheets. I plan to do the Alphabet Weeks with her that I did with the boys when they were younger, just a little more advanced. It should be fun!

It’s definitely a lot of work and I feel very much in need of some quiet time in the afternoons when we are done but it is really rewarding and fun sometimes. They are getting to do things they never did in school and we are so involved now in what they are learning. Yesterday for example, for science/nature study, we took our nature books and went out in the backyard and observed the clouds. We talked about what they looked like, drew pictures and looked in our cloud books to see if we could identify them. We sat on the swings and the different levels of the playgym and it was peaceful, quiet and lovely! Who gets to do that in school?!

I am hoping we settle into our routines quickly because I need to get a move on packing! We move in 4 weeks. I tend to think of all that I need to do right when I am trying to fall asleep at night and work myself into a slight panic:) Moving is never easy and I tend to want to put off packing and all the little details until a little closer to time but I think it would behoove me to do it little by little since my days are so full now! Thankfully, we saved all our boxes from last year so that is one less thing I have to do.


A beautiful sunset we saw in Plain City the other night on our way home!

Life is very full and getting fuller by the day it seems but we are thankful and taking things one day at a time! Happy Wednesday!




Big News!! (and the story behind it!)

No, we are not having number four. How dare you think such a thing?? Moving on!

Whilst (like that word?) we are still in the midst of making some decisions for our family/future, we have decided on one very big thing. As you might recall, I blogged a time or two about the rough year we had in terms of the boys’ education. It was, quite frankly, an extremely discouraging, frustrating year!



It started out okay but quickly deteriorated into almost daily complaints of, “I’m so bored!” or “I don’t like school.” or “I don’t want to go to school anymore.” We worked hard with the boys on their attitudes while simultaneously assuring them that we were in their corner fighting hard! We had teacher conferences, chats with the principal and even a couple fruitless calls to the superintendent’s office before coming to the conclusion this past March that something had to change and quickly!

We began a several month process of checking out other schools, intense prayer, countless conversations discussing our options and also keeping the boys in loop as much as we could. We found one school that excelled impressively in academics and we went so far as to go for a tour and had the boys take placement tests. We even took a whole month to fill out the paperwork! They were immediately accepted and offered spots. We let them keep the spots while we continued to pray and talk to people. People encouraged us and listened and offered advice.

Still, even though they were officially enrolled, I hesitated that last month and a half of school, to say anything to their current school, not feeling fully at peace. The last day of school, I prayed all day about what to say and if this was the right decision to pull them out. We did go through major life changes in this past year, after all! Was it the right decision to toss in another big change so soon??



I went to the boys’ school about a half an hour before it let out and when I walked into the office, was immediately greeted by the school receptionist, who had been so welcoming and kind to me all year! I asked her what the process for withdrawal was and she asked what school we were thinking of sending them to. I told her and immediately her facial expression and tone of voice became cloaked in careful politeness and cautiousness. She agreed that it was an excellent school academically but when I asked if she had known anyone who had gone there, she said her grandchildren! And then she invited me to sit next to her while she described their experience.

Her every word confirmed the fears that we had about the school and it’s atmosphere of pressure and competitiveness. The principal is well known for caring only for test scores and not for the child his/herself. She had twin granddaughters in the school and they began to exhibit aggressive behavior at home, etc. After a heartbreaking scene at the kindergarten graduation, where one twin was brought forward with a small group and applauded over how smart they were and the rest of the class, including the other twin was left at the back of the stage and told they needed to step it up to be more like the “smarter” group, the family knew they had to do something and quick. They contacted the principal, who basically said in response, “If you don’t like it, get out.” So they did.

Mrs Jones (the school receptionist) looked at me very sincerely and said, “I heard you mention that you had been praying about this decision?” and at my nod she added, “If you are looking to raise your children with all of the morals and values that come with Christianity, that is not the school for you.” And then she finished it with a gentle hand on my arm and a whisper, “I’ll be praying for you.”

Um, can we say an answer to prayer?? I picked up the boys, got in the car, called Ben and told him the story and we said, “Okay, that’s not the answer.” We felt immediate peace over the decision and called the school the next Monday to withdraw them.

So what were our next options? Moving to another district? Keeping them at the same school and hoping it turned out better next year? There was one other option. A little seed of though that popped into my mind back in March, that we discussed off and on, not sure whether it was feasible or not. Until now.

We have spent the summer praying, asking, researching, meeting with people and finally in the last two weeks, we have made our decision and it’s a big one! Ready??

We are going to be homeschooling.



 ( I thought it was a funny picture!)

I know, right? You are my first peeps to know, other than our moms, and everyone’s support would mean the world to us! I never ever would’ve considered it, had we stayed in a school like the one the boys were in while we were living in IL. They were thriving and loving school and were happy. And so were we. Great teachers, advanced classes, etc.

And everything took such a turn for the worse this year. Education has become dumbed down, especially where we are, to minister to the large population of English-as-a-second-language kids. And that’s fine…..as long as you don’t throw the other kids under the bus! So the lack of education (kind of important to us!) coupled with the scary changes and shifts in our culture and what children are beginning to be taught were enough for us to take homeschooling seriously. The things Samuel came home telling me this year have been so difficult (and would break your heart!) and he is still struggling a lot with it all.

I really had to examine my reasons for it. Was it to shelter our kids so they would stop being exposed to things at such impressionable ages? Was I being realistic about it or cloaking it in some fairytale story in my mind? After a lot (I mean, a lot!) of prayer, we feel very much at peace for our reasons behind our decision. We feel that it is not only our right, but our responsibility, to give our children a firm foundation (and in our home, that means a Christian foundation centered around Jesus) and a great education. Not a dumbed down one based on test scores. And no more of the school telling our children what is right and wrong and what they are allowed to believe or not to believe. That is our responsibility as parents and we take it very seriously. Not forcing our children to take on our beliefs but encouraging them, teaching them, raising them up in and modeling for them our beliefs, with the hopes and prayers that they will decide to love God for themselves as they go out into the world. (i.e. making their faith their own and not an umbrella faith!)

Last week, I was begging God to guide me through the overwhelming amount of curriculums and be able to choose what is right for us. The curriculums out there on the market go to all extremes. Extremely conservative Christian curriculums where it’s all laid out for you and everything is filtered very carefully to ultra-secular where anything goes. We wanted neither!!

In the middle of last week, I was reading some homeschooling methods and curriculum methods to Ben while we were in the kitchen and all of the sudden, bam, we hit on one where we both said, “Yes!” and Ben really truly jumped on board with me. Another few days and everything just fell into place. We are praying for provision for our year and wisdom as we undertake this monumental task (or mostly me!) and we would so appreciate your prayers with us!


Next time, I’ll blog about the method that we have chosen and the philosophies behind it. So excited! And nervous, and peaceful and everything all mixed up in one! We can’t wait!

One Day at a Time!

This week has been one of those oh-so-busy, “just one day at a time” kind of weeks! It has been good just crazy busy. We definitely have a much busier lifestyle right now, with both of us trying to earn enough income to a)survive (and we have finally gotten to that point in the past 2 months, hooray!) and b)begin to pay off our mammoth debt. It seems light years away that we will not have this monstrous dragon breathing down our necks but we certainly look forward to it! Maybe a miracle will happen and the government will actually decide to help people with school debt!

Right…..I’m guessing pigs will be flying or something of that sort:)

This week, Ben has had a big week at work, taking over as acting manager of the warehouse. His boss went on vacation for the first time in a really long time, trusting Ben (who is unofficially assistant manager these days) to take over! So Ben has been working long days and picking up the slack of other co-workers who may or may not show up for work. After tomorrow, he will have logged in 26 hours of overtime in 2 weeks!

And I started teaching preschool and my newest cleaning job this week. I was feeling incredibly overwhelmed last Saturday night with the week ahead, but we have been constantly praying for each other, checking up on and encouraging one another and saying as our mantra, “Just one day at a time!” And now it’s Thursday and we’re breathing a big sigh of relief! Thank you, Lord, for the grace You give us each day.
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In children news: Samuel started some state-wide testing at school this week. Apparently, these tests do not meet with teacher enthusiasm and make things difficult for schools but they are pushed through by politicians using business methods. Samuel, weirdly enough, says he is glad to be testing because it’s something different and he won’t be bored! Can you tell what he’s been complaining about lately??

He is getting SO big and definitely showing some pre-puberty, pre-teen signs these days (a.k.a. moodiness, self-consciousness over body things, attitude, even needing to wear deodorant sometimes!) Ahh! He is within inches of matching my height and I just look at his sweet face sometimes and I can see the handsome young man he is turning into rapidly. How, oh HOW is my first baby turning 10 this summer?! I can’t think about it….

Z-man loves being 8 and it’s been a good first eight-year-old week for him! He’s been a great listener, lost another tooth and has been burying his nose in books! I do love that we have passed on our love of reading to all of the munchkins. He’s been into some new series this week. He’s funny because they’ve been learning about series at school and he absolutely insists on getting all books in order, even ones that don’t require it like Boxcar Children or Hardy Boys. We cannot sway him! So we make the rounds of libraries to get books in order:) Silly kid.

Eliana has not been adjusting to her new lenses well lately and we noticed a regression in her eye-correction so I took her back to the drs on Tuesday. We have to get her lenses re-made but thankfully it is still under warranty! We also have to start really teaching her to use her bifocals correctly, which will be interesting. She has some strong bifocals that help her eye tremendously but they have to be positioned perfectly on her face for her to use them. Really hoping the new lenses will work!

She’s such a sweetie though and was so patient with everyone taking her glasses on and off, staring at her eyes, doing little eye exams, etc. We had 4 different people in the room at the same time at one point, inspecting her and her glasses! She’s a trooper. She couldn’t have a sweet, more darling personality and character. I pray it always stays so!

So there you have it! A quick update in Thomas-land! Pics coming soon!

Beautiful Eyes!

 It has been the busiest week this week! So many appointments and errands, working, etc. Ben has had meetings and things every night this week except Tuesday and has to work double jobs tomorrow night. Whew! We are counting down until Saturday:)

On Tuesday, we finally got Eliana to her new eye doctor. She has been long overdue for a check-up because everything got put on hold with the move this summer. I was SO proud of her during this visit! She had to meet a new dr, go through the full check up (which takes almost 3 hours!) including eye dilation and she was an angel. The dr said that if all of the kids he saw were angels like her, it would make his job a whole lot easier!

She was too cute answering their questions and trying to see the letters on the screen. Whenever she wasn’t sure of a letter because it was too small, she would get really quiet and shrug a little and put her hands up like, “I don’t know!” They were so patient and sweet with her!

She has to get new lenses though. They completely changed her prescription in hopes of making her eyes match up vision-wise a little better. I always dread a prescription change because a) it costs a lot and b) it makes me nervous that it won’t help her or be the right prescription. Silly Mama.

I’ve been checking into the best options for getting new glasses or lenses because of the cost. We just got her current pair a little over a year ago and were hoping that she would have plenty of time to wear them and grow into the frame. A new pair of her glasses are $230. They said if we did lenses only, she would have to send in her current pair and they would be gone for up to 2 weeks, leaving her to wear an old ill-fitting pair. But the cost is a lot cheaper.We tried to explain that to her last night and tried on the old pair and she got really upset! She did not want to send in her new pair!

Today we went back to the eye dr and spoke with the woman who handles new prescriptions and she agreed that Eliana was too stressed out over wearing the old pair and we should find a different route. She suggested taking her pair to Walmart and they can fit lenses in in less than 1 hour! Sure enough, I took her over there right away and they confirmed that they can do that and it’s no problem with her bifocal or anything (which sometimes causes issues!) So tomorrow morning she will hopefully have her new lenses and it costs a whole lot less than a new pair. We can save that for next year. Whew!
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The boys are doing so well. They both did some testing at school and got into some better programs to challenge them. Both have been expressing a lot of boredom, which we hate to hear! Hopefully everything will work out really soon.

And Samuel joined the student council! He has his first meeting tomorrow morning:) He has been alternately excited and nervous but felt better when another classmate of his signed up. Can’t wait to hear how it goes!

The boys are waiting for me to read a book to them before bed so off I go….another day down!

School and Furniture Re-do’s!

 Week one of crazy change is done! I feel like I am barely hanging on. It has been SO incredibly overwhelming this past week with new schools/preschool, unpacking, trying to get back into a semblance of routines and schedules, hunting for a used car, etc. Yesterday I had to give myself a little grace and remind myself that it’s only been a week and we are adjusting to so much in a short time. I am working hard on getting us into routine so our afternoons and evenings will run a little smoother.

As for school, the kiddos are adjusting really well this week! Last week was pretty tough. There were tears and tummy aches and lots of “I want to move back to Chicago’s” floating around but it started to ease at the end of the week. It has been easier for the boys to go to school this week and they are starting to make a few friends and feel a little more comfortable. We are still trying to figure out the school and what they expect in terms of homework, etc. It will just take time! (breathe, Heidi!)

Here are the kiddos on their first day of school! We were all so tired!

This is Eliana’s cubby at her preschool. She goes on Tuesdays and Thursdays and seems to be enjoying it so far. She loves her new Princess Sofia backpack:)

This is E on her first day of school! She almost refused to smile for me but at the last minute she relented:)

Here is the school bus! The boys still aren’t huge fans of riding it but I admit that it makes things much easier to have them go straight to school and come straight home. It’s pretty cute to see their cute faces smiling and waving to us from the window:)

And now for some furniture re-do’s! I got a few small cans of paint and decided to brighten up some of our furniture! Most of our furniture is old, hand-me downs or eclectic. The first to get a makeover was our bed! It was given to us and I’m just not a huge fan of dark brown. My mom’s been trying to convince me to paint it white for a long time but I just wasn’t sure how that would look. I finally gave in…

It took a lot of primer to cover the dark wood!

Here it is white! I actually really like it! It makes the bed fade into the background instead of being a huge focal point.

The spindals were so hard to paint but it was worth it!

Next was a cute little bookshelf that my cousin and I bought at a garage sale back when we lived together. We got it for only $1! It has been repainted a few times and put into different rooms. In Chicago, this was my “pantry” in the basement but now it’s in Eliana’s room!

And now it’s purple! She picked the color (“Magical”) and her dresser will also be painted when I get the chance.

It’s a very pretty pinky-purple color, kind of like her glasses!

I also wanted to add a splash of color into our kitchen/dining room area. We have a kitchen island that was white….

And now it’s blue! It’s actually a blue/slightly aqua color that I just love!

It holds our “Junk drawer” (doesn’t everyone have one?!) and our Tupperware.

We also have a bookshelf in our kitchen for my cookbooks and kid’s dishes. It was white and looking pretty rundown.

But now it’s all spruced up! I haven’t finished putting everything back onto the shelves but I will soon! I just love seeing pretty color in the house after so many years of white, white, white!

This pretty much sums up how tiring this past week has been…;)

Waiting for brothers at the bus stop! I think she looks so much older here. Sniff!

Eliana got a beautiful purple dress from my aunt and she wore it on Sunday to church. She got lots of compliments!

Today my mom and niece picked E and I up and we went to story time at the local library! It was really well done and I am excited to go back. Eliana was hesitant to participate but started doing handmotions to the songs towards the end. It was a nice way to pass part of our morning! (It gets very boring being stuck here with no car!)

That’s it for today. I am still trying to organize enough to take pictures of our place but it’s coming! Now I’m off to make dinner before Awana tonight. Always something!

TGIF

Hey! We made it! We just got internet hooked up a half an hour ago and one of my first stops into the internet world is my good old blog:)

We moved on Monday and were reminded all over again of how much stuff we have. Yuck. We moved a ton of boxes over the weekend by ourselves and weren’t sure how we would find people to help us, as most of our family is “broken.” But God provided again and people came out of the woodworks, including a guy we just met at church a couple of weeks ago!

Not only did we move everything in on Monday, on Tuesday the boys started their new school and Eliana started preschool! It was totally overload for everyone and most of us were exhausted and more emotional than normal. The boys hadn’t slept well our first night here (and so neither did I!) and were just overwhelmed. Thankfully, we all made it through the first day.

We had to find help getting people places this week because of our car situation~one car! We are praying that we can find a cheap second car asap. One answer to prayer is that the boys’ school has a bus that stops right in front of our neighborhood! There are SOO many kids in the neighborhood that they fill up a whole bus so it’s a one-stop bus that goes straight to/from school. It takes us 2 minutes to walk to the bus stop. The boys aren’t thrilled with riding the bus and I do miss walking them to school, like we have the past 3 years but this is so helpful right now.

I have been working very hard the past few days unpacking and trying to make a semblance of a home for us! Pictures coming soon…..:)

For now, we are all looking forward to hanging out together in our new home this weekend. TGIF!