Once there were children playing under the trees

The branches are full and hanging like the folds of a party dress ready for dancing. The apples are waiting to be picked but alas most are not worthy of being eaten by human kind. The birds and deer will eat heartily the next few weeks. Thayne and I went for a nature walk down to the big house to check things out, get some apples and view the river.

We found tiny persimmons and looked for honeysuckle. Then we noticed the old cars have been moved. Things are changing on the property and not just the color of the leaves. The old school bell that used to hang above the wooden garage is gone. The corporation is preparing the property for whatever is going to be its future.

This little bit of paradise has been our home for almost 7 years. I have lived here longer than I have lived in any house in my entire life. I am not sure that I can live in Southern Maryland and not live here. It will kind of break my heart.

When I was a late teen I had a little vision of this place. I saw the apple trees and red barn and knew that someday I would be here. When we found this rental property it felt perfect and it has been such an amazing magical place. It has been home in so many ways other than just the house.

Thayne was becoming discouraged because we had not found any honeysuckle so far on our walk. I told him it was kind of past time that it should be blossoming and he probably wouldn't find any. Just a few steps further, just like this magical place always does, there was the gift of one small branch for him.


Still trying at this Mom thing

He was ready. Everything was packed and he was excited and terrified at the same time. In retrospect, I failed. We arrived at the dropping off point and loaded cars but the adults were not quite ready. An hour & 1/2 from the time we arrived they were finally all loaded. He got into the Scout Master's car to leave and then bolted out in tears. Then we went home and he cried the whole way. He just couldn't go.

Being on the spectrum is hard when you just want to be like the other boys. I failed because we have a family rule and because he expressed a small desire to go camping, I was thrilled and relented. I thought it would be such a great triumph if he could do this. I talked to him about facing fears and be brave. I should have said no. We have a family rule and Michael is not here to attend with him. I feel like I could have saved his heartache and spared him from all the anxiety the the entire week prior if I had just followed our rule. Being non-neuro typical comes with seeing the world in a whole different way. A unique and incredible gift. He makes me smile everyday. We approach daily living in a slower more observant way. Things take a little longer to bloom around our home, but it is still amazingly beautiful.

So after five kids I am still learning, still trying to do the right thing, and still failing. It is a process and I am still just trying to be the best mom I can be.

PS: Ignore the fourth of July decorations on the mantle. It is September I will change them eventually. Another Mom fail :)



I have always loved field guides and the books where people have illustrated all the wonderful flora and fauna on their estates. I am not however very talented when it comes to art. I always find these little treasures on our beach and I have wanted a way to capture how I feel about them besides just having a photo. Recently I read about a technique where you trace the item and then use watercolors instead of colored pencils. Watercolors are more forgiving. So this is my first attempt at creating a nature journal page. It is not too bad and I love that it captures an essence of these little gifts from the sea.


Day To Serve

Every September we have the opportunity to go to Serenity Farm in Benedict Maryland and serve by working for Food4Hunger. This year the kids were so excited. Thayne says that it is one of his favorite days after Christmas. It is dirty work but we love to help.
There is the corn. This is our fifth year at the farm. Almost every year we get to help with corn. It has to have the bottom stalk snapped off and then loaded into boxes. You can't take to much off or else it is considered processed. The farm is not allowed to process any food items. Once it is sent to the food pantries, they finish the job. The trucks are loaded about five feet high and it takes several hours to get through that much corn.
There are always jobs that Lydia can help with. Last year she sorted sunflower seeds into bags for school children. This year she was able to help sort through the tomatoes that we had been picking out in the fields.
Thayne is usually all over that farm! This year he helped pick tomatoes, spread mulch, clean out a greenhouse and did something with pipes. Brother Brown said he was finding jobs to keep the boy busy. Everyone knows that Thayne loves to explore but he also loves to work. 
Maliea and I helped in the fields picking tomatoes. Oh so many tomatoes! There were several varieties to glean. Many had already fallen from the vine and were rotten. I filled up about 5 of those orange buckets. The hardy ones are the romas and they seemed to fare better on the vine. In past years there have been sweet potatoes, peppers and green beans.

This program does so much for the community but the part I love the most is that it is a ministry to help those who have past prison records to participate, work and change. Visiting with these men and seeing the power of redemption in their lives is incredible.  I am grateful for the opportunity to help in a small way; to help to feed our community in need and to teach my children to serve others.


And Another Year

Our first week of school was a success! One of the highlights was when Thayne and I acted out the entire Trojan War with Lego and wood blocks. We were having a grand old time. The chariots did look a tad bit like Star Wars vehicles and our boats were not as grand as the black ships of the Greeks but it was a lively battle. There are no pictures because we were having so much fun.
Then as Achilles was dragging Hector's body around, it all hit Thayne. War is serious and sad. Our discussion changed and I love how deep he thinks even though he is just 12.
Thayne's outline

I put forth a challenge for Lydia and Thayne called Reading Rewards. With the older kids I never had to worry about screens demanding my children's attention. The world now has changed so much in the last 25 years that I have been homeschooling. Not only is there television but phones, tablets, video game systems, and the lure of social media. We still do not have 'real' TV and we do not have enough internet to be able to stream any shows but the lure is still there. So it is now down to bribing (oh I mean incentive). I have a chart and for every five days they do their reading they can get an item at the 5 Below store or save up and trade for cash. Eventually they will get into the habit and the rewards thing will drop out, but for now what ever it takes.

Lydia is a senior this year and Thayne will be doing a combination year 6/7. Our day starts at 5:15 as we get ready for Lydia's seminary class. We arrive home from that at 7:30. She has breakfast then heads back to bed to get a few more hours sleep. Thayne eats also then we start school with a nature walk per the weather.  Then we come back and work on math first thing, then his main lesson and  etc... When Lydia awakes we have a joint activity. I am doing the Private Eye program to help them think with analogies. Then lunch and I am reading aloud while we eat. Then we continue with school. Thayne finishes and then I can focus on helping Lydia.

After so many years I needed to really shift my perspective because I was kind of dreading all the planning at first. I listened to some podcasts and read some great articles that helped me get enthusiastic again. I am excited for all the fun and learning we are doing this year.


Reset and the Second half

The call to put words down beckons me again. My children read the books I created from past year's blogs over and over and have expressed that I need to start recording our lives once more. So I am going to try to make an effort for posterity.

September is here and it has arrived with more than a hint of Autumn in the air. Houston has flooded from Hurricane Hugo. My heart is sad for all those people who have lost their homes and must start over. Michael is in Italy once again. He will not return for another month. Quayde has moved to Arizona. We have one foot in the catch and release phase of parenting and one foot still in the raising of the two that are still young.

Chapter 50 started with the best kind of surprise. Of sisters, laughter, and hope of creating a magical year.Marissa and Ginny came as a secret and danced in T-Rex costumes. We had the best weekend! They are pretty crazy and I love it. Food, the beach and conversation made everything perfect.

I am excited. I feel amazing. I am in better health than I was 10 years ago. I have always had this feeling that life is going to be freeing when I am older. The first half century of my life was weighed down with heavy things and I feel lighter lately. Seriously, I am thinking 105 is doable.


The Most Horrible Nightmare

This morning Lydia and I were almost ready to walk out the door to Seminary when we heard the bedroom door creak open.
We knew that meant Thayne was awake and we would be delayed leaving.

"Mom!! I had the most terrible, horrible nightmare!" He stumbled out of the room visibly upset

I told him to go get Maliea and she could sleep with him while we were gone.

"Mom, it was awful."

Being the compassionate parent I am , I gave him a hug and retold him to go get his sister because we needed to leave.

"Mom, It was so bad.. Broccoll was destroyed!" He was almost crying.

"Your stuffed broccoli?" I asked trying, not to laugh. At 5:45 in the morning a child crying over a dream about a stuffed broccoli is pretty funny.

"I can never ever take any of my stuffies to the beach!" He emphatically cried.

I gave him a quick hug, told him once again to get his sister and barely held my laughter until I walked out the door.
I really need to work on the empathy part of being a parent.