Monday, April 29, 2013

The Reason I Homeschool....

This is the time of year I am always excited about.  Another school year ending.  The anticipation of SUMMERTIME!  I am a sunshine girl.  I love the sun, the water, the less structured days.  Ahhh... I also enjoy thinking about goals and dreams for next year.

This has been a FANTASTIC school year.  Just fantastic.  Without a doubt my favorite year yet.  Now don't get me wrong. It hasn't been easy.  We still deal with dyslexia and are learning to navigate high school, we still have meltdowns (mom included), and my house is in an almost constant state of disarray.  But I'm learning such is life.

Anytime someone with even a vague interest in homeschooling hears you homeschool they have a million questions.  Just the fact you homeschool makes you an instant expert.  I used to embrace that status wholeheartedly.  Now, after wrapping up my tenth year I think I am finally starting to understand what homeschooling is all about.  As I was talking this week with a discouraged homeschooler who was SURE she was messing her kids up I realized what a journey this has been.  I was that mom.  As I shared with my friend though some truth was cemented in my heart.

I may very well be "messing up my kids" in some ways.  In fact I know I have blind spots and weak areas and sin that will affect them. is not all about them!  Homeschooling is so about the Lords work in me.  He is using it for my sanctification.  It is not always pretty.  It is not always fun.  In fact most days it is not.  Yet he is using the mess.  The stress.  The insecurity.  The struggle.  The fussing.  The dailiness.  It is many days like being put in a pressure cooker and watching for what blows to the surface.  Then cleaning up the mess and I am learning to rest heavy on the Lord.  I did say LEARNING.  To trust him in the daily of our mess.  Whew....I've got a way to go!

So when I started homeschooling I had dreams of  genius children who walked holy upright lives.  I had lots of answers and knew I was making the right choice.  I still have these hopes for my kids.  I have a lot less answers and a lot more questions.  I still think I made the right choice for my family.  Yet I know now that the joke was on me.  I wasn't going to create these perfect, proper, litte geniuses.  The Lord had a plan to change these kids Mama.  It is slow and it is painful and it is a process.  My heart is changing.  I'm learning so much more then my kids are. Now I just pray that I don't mess them up too bad in the process!

I wouldn't trade homeschooling for the world!  It has been one of the pleasures of my life.  I love doing life with my family day in and day  out.  It is not easy.  But like most hard things.  It is worth it.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Another Week

The weeks are flying and by.  Summer is getting close and I am so ready!  After spending last summer doing summer camps, I must admit this girl is looking forward to a summer break!  We may actually get one this year!  We are ahead in that happened....I haven't a clue!

So this week.....was filled with gifts.  My children lavish me with gifts, almost continuously!  I received a beautiful pipe cleaner bracelet and ring set.  I also was the recipient of a dozen love letters and several original paintings.  Lydia made me a hand sewn pillow.  She did such a good job.  I've been given several fresh picked bouquets.  I was even given a hand sculpted paper pet giraffe.  
I am loved.

This week was filled with the normal.  


Errands.  Lessons.  Waiting.

It was also filled with complaints.  Sore throats.  Itchy eyes.  Sneezing.  Several of the kids have been struggling with allergies this year.  That is a first for the kiddos.  Randy and I both have issues, but this is the first year the kids have been affected.

 We've also had tummy aches.  Bruised ears.  Stubbed toes.
Not to mention my sore knees!
Grumble. Grumble.

A few highlights:
 Mom treated the kids and I to lunch at Parker and Otis on Friday.

 We all agreed that it was delicious!

I had my run on Saturday!

 Andrew was busy with the youth group having their D-Now.
Randy and I got to help a little Friday night and we enjoyed that.

He also had his homeschool dance last weekend.

 It is hard to get pictures of him these days.  He is always on the go!!!

 Love my boy!

Trying to slow down time.  It's going too fast.

It also held some sadness.
My Aunt Amy announced that she was moving away.  Sniff.
My van conked out on me in the middle of Hillsborough Rd.  Praise the Lord we were not hit! aunt Linda lost her battle with cancer.  
You just never know what a week will hold.
The normal.  The sad.  The frustrating.  The happy.   The end.


Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Race!

Today I ran in the 20th Annual Angels Among Us 5K.
I ran with Nina's "We Hope You Dance" Team.
The money raised from the race goes to The Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke.

This race is the reason I started running.  It is almost the reason I stopped running too.

When I agreed to run this race back in December....I remember thinking....What on earth have I done?  There is absolutely NO WAY I can run a 5K.
No way.
I remember vividly standing on the elliptical machine doing my workout one afternoon rehearsing reasons to tell Renea that I had changed my mind.
I really thought hard about quitting.

But I didn't quit.
I am so glad that I persevered. Today I ran the 5K.  I not only ran it and finished but I also KILLED my personal best time.
I ran 3.1 miles in 30:34.
 I didn't know I could run that fast!  Previously I had run it in 34:something.


Unfortunately I couldn't stay and hang out afterwards: the kids had swim lessons and I had to pick Andrew up from his D-Now weekend and we had a death in the extended family and so the day is full....but even though I didn't get to celebrate with my team I am proud of each one of them.  

This was hard work and a major accomplishment for MANY of these women!  I am so proud of each and every person that works hard to take better care of themselves!  
It is HARD work!!!

I did get a few pictures:

My cheering section was there!

Thankful for my fans :) It was cold and early but they were there with smiles on!

Thank you!

My biggest fan Randy had a previous commitment.  He hated not being there but he texted me encouragement and insisted I call him as soon as I was done.  He's a fan too!

The training continues....I'm thinking I may do a 5K color run in June and I am doing 10K in September. 

Just keep swimming!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Big Day at the Stewart House

Today was a big day at the Stewart house.  After about 6 years of speech we are D-O-N-E!!!

Sophie started speech when she was 3 and spent about 3 years in therapy.  She had Apraxia of speech and she also had a fabulous teacher.  We would go twice a week.  I would go to her office at 9:00 every Monday and Wednesday.  Andrew was  8 and would have his school work.  Sophie was 3 and would have her lesson.  The twins were 14 months and would tottle down that long hall.  Falling over each other and I would be carrying a diaper bag, newborn Audrey, a bag of toys and sweating profusely.  Those were the days!  We have come a long way.  Right about the time Sophie finished speech.....Jackson started.  Whew!


Jackson graduated from speech today!  He has had 2 different speech teachers over the last 3 years. He had a different teacher twice a week for about a year and a half and it just didn't seem like he was making much progress.  We took a short break and tried again.  This time we got Miss Vanessa!

 He loves Miss Vanessa.  She has come twice a week for about 18 months.  It will be so different not having her come each week.

I asked him how he felt about speech being over and he said he was, " happy to be done with all that hard work for his mouth but that he was going to miss Miss Vanessa."

Well said Jackson.

I am soooo proud of Jackson.  He also has Apraxia of Speech.  His was diagnosed as severe.  However his speech is now 95% intelligible.  When we started it was about 20%.  
He has worked HARD!
He still has some work to do on his R but that will come with age.

Miss Vanessa surprised him with a bag of candy and gum and pencils and stickers along with a little compact mirror.  He loved looking in her mirror while he talked and watching his lips.  Now he has his own!

Thanks Miss Vanessa!

This is how happy Jackson is that he is done:

YEAH Jackson!!!!

Monday, April 15, 2013

MY Amy

Do you ever get happy---- sad news that just makes you want to cry? Yet at the same time you feel the butterflies of excitement.  Well that is what I got this morning.  Amy is moving to the beach!  Which Amy?  There are a lot of Amy's out there.  MY Amy.  That is how I always answered, when we were growing up, whenever someone would ask: Which Amy?

"My Amy" is my aunt.  She is my dad's youngest sister.  They have both the same parents.  Dad was the oldest of 5 and Amy was the youngest.  My grandma had Dad when she was 16 and Amy when she was 43.  She is younger then me by one year, one month, and 10 days.  But she is not just an aunt.  She was more like a cousin, best friend, sister all rolled into one.  We were raised in each others homes.  We went on most of our vacations together.  We took dance together.  We got sick together.  We went to Vacation Bible school together.  We went to church together.  We played for HOURS in the vacant lot together.  We made dandelion crowns in the Macaldo's field. We played Little House on the Prairie.  We played horses.  We choreographed some amazing dances. We were basically professional lip singers.  We staged gymnastic competitions.  We created synchronized swimming routines.  We smoked candy cigarettes together. We bought matching blond wigs and dressed alike and wondered if anyone would think we were twins.  We sold lemonade door to door.  We started our very own Babysitters Club.  We buried treasure in her front yard....that will never be found! We went on road trips together.  We saw New Kids on the Block....three times.....together.  We went to Jimmy's Grill with granddaddy and bonded together to fight the injustice of older siblings, who were allowed privileges we were "too young" to enjoy:  driving the truck around the neighborhood for example.
We went on double dates together. We talked about crushes and nursed our broken hearts together.  We went to movies and out to dinner.  Spent MANY weekends at the mall. When we were not physically together we were on the phone....for hours! We had some bad haircuts and worse perms together. Remember the lion look we sported for a while? YIKES!  We were real life official blood sisters. was ketchup....but still!  We got in REALLY big fights....about once every year or so....but we made up fast.  Growing up we were inseparable.

We have lived in the same town most of our lives.  Yes we had a stint in college and Amy had the job in DC, but those were temporary.  Moving to the beach with your family...... to the town where your husbands family lives.  When your little boy is going to start kindergarten in the just seems so permanent.  Sigh.  Tears.

The weddings. 
 Setting up our homes.  

The babies. 

 The funerals. 
 The family gatherings.

The celebrations.
 The trip to New York.  
The nights on your back porch.  
Your kids playing here in the summer. 

 The good times.  The bad times....Me and Amy together forever.  It's just a loss.  She's not gone. I know that.   It will just be different.  Different is hard for me, but I'm getting lots of practice!


Don't get me wrong.  I am SUPER excited for her.  I mean she is going to live at THE BEACH!  That is exciting.   Me and Amy LOVE the beach.  We grew up spending our summers at Emerald Isle at a beach house our families shared.  Our visions of life ALWAYS included us living at the beach.  Now we can both say we have! I just did it my first year of marriage while I finished off college.  She is really moving there.  Setting up a home.  WOW!  I really am excited for her.  What an amazing adventure.  A dream come true!  I will definitely have an excuse to go to the beach now!  As if I needed one.  I'm just going to miss her.

Durham will not be the same without My Amy!

We don't see each other much now.  We have all the kids birthdays.  The occasional church egg hunt.  The much too infrequent visits.  The slightly more frequent summer visits.  Yet knowing she was here and knowing she was nearby..... I liked it.  

Growing up is not for sissy's.  

But....we got this girl!  It's going to take more then a move to the beach to break us up!

I'll love you forever!


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Great Weight Update

Well it is the second Tuesday of that means it is time for the GREAT WEIGHT UPDATE!

To update on Randy first, because I have not been as faithful in that regard.  He is doing fantastic.  He has lost 83 pounds.  Yes....83 pounds!  I am AMAZED!  He is doing great with his eating and has even started to regularly cook salmon for us.  He has a wonderful recipe!  YUMMY!  He had been running.  He is FAST.  He runs under a nine minute mile.  He ran 7 miles in 1 hour and 8 minutes.  That is fast!  However, he unfortunately hurt himself.  He has had some back and knee pain.  A friend of his, that is a physical therapist, showed him some exercises to help rehabilitate the area.  They have helped.  He has had to stop running for the time being.  However, one of his current goals is to run a 10K in September.  He has not quit exercising though.  He is still faithfully working out on the elliptical.  He has maxed the machine out at 58 minutes on Level 20.  He burns 1297 calories per workout.  WHEW!  I can not even imagine!  The guy likes to eat though and LOVES his elliptical!  To say I am proud of Randy would be a gross understatement.  He has led me, and our kids on this journey.  I would not be where I am today without his example, leadership, and encouragement.  I adore him.

This is him last summer:

This is him now

He's pretty hot!


I have a big announcement to make.  As of today, April 9, 2013 I am no longer obese!  It is my prayer that I will never allow myself to destroy God's temple in the way I had ever again.  I am REALLY happy to be overweight!  It has taken 10 long months of faithful hard work and self denial and a total life style change but if I can do it.....ANYONE can!  Praise the Lord!  I lost 4.6 pounds last month for a grand total of 74 pounds.  Overall I am averaging 1.8 pounds per week but last months average was down to 1.1 per week.  It is sooooo slow....but it adds up!

I am running still.  I love it.  I am not very fast, but I am getting faster. I finally broke an 11 minute mile and was THRILLED!  I truly love running.  Especially running in the spring!  I don't know what possessed Randy and I to start running outside in the middle of the winter....but all I can tell you is I am so glad it happened because now I know the absolute joy of spring running.  Birds chirping, the scent of fresh cut grass, flowers unveiling their splendor, the warm air....oh my word....LOVE!  I have also started to do some sit ups, push ups, and light arm weights.  I have been very sporadic and hope to continue to improve in this area.

I am also really excited that I can now wear a size 12.  It has been a long time!  I am looking forward to swimsuit shopping for the first time in YEARS AND I am also looking forward to the Angels Among us 5K run next weekend.  If you would like to support me in my run you can donate to Duke by clicking the link below!

 Click Her to Donate to Angels Among Us 2013 Team!

In conclusion, my current goals are to come up with a regular toning routine, to start swimming laps so I can give my joints a break from running but still get a good workout, to run in a 10 K on my birthday weekend (Sept. 6-7) and to give myself the best gift ever....a 100 pound weigh loss!

Still Swimming!

Sunday, April 7, 2013


I realized tonight I have not uploaded  pictures from my phone in a long time....
So brace yourself....
Here comes a March/April update.

Lydia enjoying ice cream and listening to the Groovynators at The Depot in Hillsborough

Celebrating the Flight Athletic teams at the Basketball/Volleyball Banquet
Go Flight!

Lincoln came a week after his surgery and we spoiled him!

We usually don't watch much TV but we let him lounge around watching shows quite a bit that week!

Poor Baby!

He was back to his old happy self the next week.

Stuffing Easter Eggs for the Co-op Easter egg hunt!

Dying Easter Eggs

I also got to enjoy a yogurt date with Audrey!
As we were walking in we passed an elderly lady and Audrey was waving like crazy at her.
The lady smiled at Audrey and waved back.
The lady looked a LOT like Granny.
I asked Audrey why she was waving to her.
She said, "She reminds me of Granny."
I asked her if she missed Granny.  She said, "Yes Granny always gave lots of hugs!"
Yes she did.  I miss her too.

Enjoying a hike through the park with the Parks :)

Audrey and Mariana stole my phone....and took 100 pictures of their cute selves!

Easter at Nanny's.  
Sweet Julia is dressed up as Cinderella!
Then Julia decided Sophie should be a pretty princess.
I love this picture of Lydia and Julia.
Two sweet girls.

Time to go on errands!
Yes this is how they dress when we go in public!

My big boy posed willingly for a photo!

So cute
Amy and Stella when they joined us for the Easter Egg Hunt at Rose of Sharron.
Stella looks JUST like Amy when she was little!

Trisha Lynn singing with the praise band.
She did a great job and has amazing stage presence!

Pa helping Audrey with her birthday locket.
I love this picture.

Family staring contest at Audrey's Golden Corral Birthday Dinner.

Yep....that is how we roll!
Good Times

Jack is obviously excited about seeing this movie.....

simply based on the title!


Yesterday afternoon we were able to go have ice cream and visit with my parents at Maple View Farm.
Afterwards we went back to their house and had dinner and watched the game with my sister and brother and his family.  It was a great day and I didn't take one single picture!

Thursday, April 4, 2013


I am worn and spent.
Hungry....but not for food....just to be filled.

Learning to feel.
Feast...on the word....on the truth that will really satisfy.

The road has been long.
It has been slow.
It stretches out long ahead.
Seems impossible.
Too much.  Too far.  Too big.

Yet the voice in my head lies.
Discipline is possible.
Idols can be destroyed.
One day at a time.
One pound at a time.
I don't have to quit just because it is hard.
I can keep putting one foot in front of the other.

I miss my Granny and my Papa.
I want to hug them.
I want to hear their stories.
Questions I didn't ask.
Answers I'll never hear.
Time moves too fast.
Eighty-eight years is not enough.
But cookies can not soothe the ache.
Pasta will not make anything better.
French fries are not going to change the truth.
They are gone. 

Feeling the pain.
Living life anyway.
"I am busy getting stronger."
And I am finding myself on the open road.
"I can't tell if its killing me or making me stronger."
But I do know this.....
No matter how long it takes....
I will get there.

"Quotes taken from Pinterest Board"

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Baby

Six years ago today our sweet baby Audrey Faith was born.  She has been the absolute delight of my life.  We did not plan for Audrey.....which is strange because having children did not come easily to us.....BUT God planned for her.  She is the cherry on top of our family. 

I found out we were expecting her when I had newborn twins!  Talk about surprise!  So the twins and Audrey are just 14 months apart!!!!  Those first few years are a BLUR!
To say I was exhausted was a gross understatement!
Audrey was born six weeks early.

She had a virus when she was born and was very sick.  She spent her first 2 weeks of life in an incubator at the hospital. 
However she has been healthy as a horse ever since!
Praise the Lord!
We are so thankful that Gods plan involved her life.  She has brought sunshine to our family.

Audrey's best friends are her sisters.
She adores them and they love her too!

She is a fashionista.

She is independent.

She is funny.

She is a good student.

She is a ham!

She loves to dance.

She loves her red blanket....her thumb.....and her dog.

She celebrated her birthday this year with a family party at Chuck E Cheese.

I can't believe my baby is 6!!!!  I am so grateful to have her in my life.  She has brought such joy!