The kids returned to their tutorial this morning.
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Well three of them returned and one, very excited 5 year old entered the building as a student for the first time.  IMG_3011
Despite the fact that I have been working tirelessly to prep for this school year AND I even woke up 2 hours before we needed to leave the house, we STILL arrived late.  BUT, perhaps that late arrival made for a smoother drop off for Momma b/c there wasn’t time for me to get weepy as I ushered my lil man into the opening assembly.  He was so, so excited to finally be at school.  As we walked up to the building, wearing his backpack and carrying his lunch box, I had a flashback to his toddler self carrying a backpack to the building when we dropped off the big kids.
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He’s been lugging a backpack to the building as long as he can walk.  Often filling it to overflowing with books and pencils. 
Today as we walked into the building, he happily exclaimed, “hooray I get to go to school!”
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Boy, those  years flew by fast!  He was just growing in my belly 6 years ago when my now middle schooler began his school journey.
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Stop the crazy train!  How is he in MIDDLE SCHOOL?? 
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And just like their brother before and after them, the girls are growing up right before my eyes!
4th grade!
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Third grade!
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I think more than any other year, I find myself fully aware of the daunting task before me this year.  The weight of my responsibility feels heavy on my shoulders.  6th grade, 4th grade, 3rd grade and kindergarten!   And at the same time, I find myself overwhelmed with gratitude for this time I get to spend with them.  Because these years are flying by waaaaay to fast!  And I am so so grateful for the extra time we get to spend together learning round our kitchen table.
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And I am so grateful for the supportive Daddy and husband we have.  (who surprised us real quick by popping back home to wish them well on their first day day back at the building)…. He really is the best!
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Well, it’s pretty much official.  I think I will pull out the fall d├ęcor this weekend and start lighting my beloved pumpkin spice candles.  Summer has come and gone.  But before I take my first sip of a Pumpkin Spice Latte (I always hold out for that one till the kids first day of their tutorial….), I do want to look back on our summer.

I did a lot of deep cleaning this summer and attempted to reign in the chaos and instill some order in the circus house.  It pretty much takes all summer for me to catch up on the back slide that occurs during the school year. 

The kids played.  Nothing notable really.  Just unstructured play.  I’d almost say 2015 was the summer of play.

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I got to go on a few date nights with my most favorite person.  I love living life with him.  But I also love sneaking away for some time alone with him. This summer we got to do both.

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We went camping… several nights at state park in PA.  We also did one night in the Bowie Baysox Stadium with our friends and one night in my parents backyard with cousins.

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We visited our beloved Steelers at training camp.

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We spent a weekend at Great Wolf Lodge with our cousins, grandparents and aunt and uncle. 11167668_10205188524084927_4776505672344789372_n

And we celebrated my mom’s 60th birthday with grandparents, cousins and uncle for a weekend in State College, PA.

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Whenever anyone asks my oldest daughter how her summer was, she answers, “Good!”  And when they follow up with, what did you do, she always replies, “Went to Woodward.”  Gymnastics camp was the HIGHLIGHT of her summer and she is already talking about next summer!

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In the month of August they got really into rainbow looming.  Once they found out about tutorials on you tube the girls become slightly obsessed.  They were making charms and fancy bracelets for literally HOURS on end.  August was the month of Rainbow Looms.IMG_2381  IMG_2384

Summer wouldn’t be complete with out our annual Labor Day weekend with our friends.  And this year didn’t disappoint. Though I posted about it here, I can’t do a summer recap without including at least one pic from the weekend.    IMG_2714

This weekend promises rainy days and cooler temps, I can’t think of a better way to usher in the new season.  I am so thankful we live in a place with all four seasons.

The circus fam started back to school last week.  Some students were more enthusiastic than others. IMG_2397
And yes, I decided to do recorders for music this year.    After our Bible lesson, our very first lesson of the 2015-16 school year was music.  30 minutes of ear piercing recorder playing. The kids are enthusiastic and I am finding it to be an IMMENSE lesson in patience for this Momma.
After years of watching round the table, my youngest was beyond excited.  And I must say his excitement was rather contagious.  I am totally keeping his art project from this day, forever.  It was his very first art project on his very first day of school.  He was so proud and enthusiastic and I was rather impressed.  (art for kids hub is a WONDERFUL resource for art with kids).
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Our tutorial doesn’t start until Sept 14, but I felt that was MUCH, MUCH too long to wait to start school, so we began on August 31st.  We have been working very, very hard on math, as well as reading, art, music, and we even took two field trips in the first two weeks. 
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Scott is working on setting up our computer station for school this year and I am SO excited about it!. 
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During week one, we visited the Sight and Sound Theatre and saw Joseph.  This fits in perfectly with our history study of Ancient Egypt first quarter.
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During week 2, we visited the Museum of Industry in Baltimore.  This was so exciting to me, because I had really wanted to take them last school year when we studied the Industrial Revolution.  We didn’t make it, but they had a homeschool day yesterday and I was glad we could take advantage of it before we started in on the new history curriculum.  Perfect timing!
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It has been a wonderful first two weeks of school and I am actually excited to delve fully in next week when they return to our two day a week tutorial.  It is without a doubt, going to be my hardest year of homeschooling yet.  But, I have been working hard to get us on track, and if we stick to our schedule, I think we will all make out well.  

I think one of my favorite things about our annual Labor Day weekend away with our friends, is the fact that it has elevated Labor Day to the status of super special holiday.  Prior to our tradition (14 years in the making) Labor Day was just a three day weekend at the end of the summer, or a reprieve as you adjust to the routine of school back in session.  Because my kids have literally grown up celebrating Labor Day with a 3 day weekend away with friends that feel more like family, they assume Labor Day is right up there with Thanksgiving.  

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Ok, maybe that is my second favorite thing about Labor Day.  My first favorite thing is watching our children grow in their friendships with each other.

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And every year I think I am enjoying it more than the last, but this year I feel like we truly are in that sweet spot where the kids are old enough for both us and them to enjoy letting them have independence.

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Aside from the fact that we did eat three meals together as a group each day, and we had our our church service together Sunday morning,  there was no structure to our day.

 

 

 

I love the time gathering all together and worshipping our Lord as a group.

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The property that we have stayed at the last several years is AMAZING!  And the kids take FULL advantage of the fun to be had from sun up to sun down.

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They took hikes, splashed in the stream, built a fort, shot sling shots, swung on the tree swing, caught cray fish, went canoeing, swam in the lake, played Ghost in the Graveyard, and so much more.  Then there was of course board games, and books and coloring and the pool table.  We also added a fantasy football draft for those interested. 

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So many special memories were made as friendships grew and my heart was filled with gratitude.  Gratitude for the 5 ladies who God brought into my life way back in high school, for the men they married, for their children and for the friendships between the 36 of us.

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