That Guest Ranch: Revitalization of a Dream

Our twelfth anniversary fell on the third weekend of September this year and Ryan and I could NOT wait to get out of town and have some alone time together!  It was the first couple trip we’ve taken together since before Kash was born, so it was long overdue!

We decided on Fredericksburg (TX) because it was easy to drive to and we truly didn’t care where we went, as long as we were away together!  I checked out Airbnb on a friend’s recommendation and found a simple little one-bedroom house on a peach orchard.

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We did some fun things while we were in town, like hike at Enchanted Rock, shop at Fredericksburg Trade Days, and drink wine at Grape Creek Vineyards.  But what was really fun for us was driving along Texas backroads, soaking in the sun, all while talking and dreaming about the future.  On the way to Fredericksburg, we just generally “caught up.” As in, “Hey, I think I know who you are but we haven’t had time to connect lately, let’s talk!”  And then while we were driving, this dream we had on our honeymoon twelve years ago became the subject of discussion.

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For whatever reason, God placed on our hearts the dream of having a guest ranch. (Quick explanation: a working ranch where our family lives, and also hosts different families each week who want to vacation on the ranch.)  This dream started on our honeymoon and we dreamed about it for a full week while we were out in Cali, and then we came home and life just kept going.  Our little dream lingered in our hearts but we weren’t able to spend much time and energy into developing it because well, life.

Over the years, there has been small chatter about it but no action or deep thought on that guest ranch of ours.  But on this twelfth anniversary of ours, we got to our cozy little cabin and busted out a notebook and whipped out a bunch of crazy creative ideas. We nailed down the concept, the experience, the activities, the goods, the mission and then the next step was going to the local HEB (wish we had those in the DFW area) and purchasing some poster-board for these ideas that were too big for a regular sized 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper.  We laid out a sketch of the lodge, the house, the orchard, the guest houses, the horse barns, the mercantile, and all the other little places we need for our ranch.  We went to the local pizzeria and couldn’t quit talking about it so we used their big white placemats and drew on those and then we did what we always do and we checked out the local real estate.

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It felt good to dream again.  To focus on the future, and not just the list of things that must be done this week for our family to survive.  It was freeing to recall those honeymoon memories and to acknowledge some different things God has put on our hearts.  And now as we work on our current and future goals, we are working our activities all around that little guest ranch dream that we hope to make a reality someday!

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This Year School is at Home

The 2016-2017 school year is underway and this year our family has decided on homeschooling (again) for our 4th grader and our Pre-K student!

homeschool-studio-5 We first began homeschooling when Devynn (our 4th grader) was in second grade.

Homeschooling is not something that I EVER imagined I would do.

BUT…

A few years ago I read several books and was inspired by some local friends as well as online homeschooling families.  It seemed like there were lots of benefits to school at home, but I was scared to death to make the jump into homeschooling.

homeschool-studio-3 After a lot of praying and encouragement from Ryan, as well as big excitement from Devynn, who thought it would be the coolest thing in the world, we decided to go for it!

That first year of homeschooling was both incredibly amazing and incredibly hard.  Amazing because of all of the time we got to spend together and the things we learned together…hard because it is truly a lifestyle change.  Gone were the days of meeting friends for coffee, or going to a morning Bible study, or simply running errands without my kiddos.  In a sense you lose a bit of freedom.  Also you feel a little bit “different” from all the other mommas that you are used to hanging with.

homeschool-studio-2 However, what I found during that year was that my heart was chasing after God because 1) homeschooling was way out of my league and 2) it increased my dependency on God because it wasn’t something I had any experience with and 3) The burden of my “to-do list” felt overwhelming so I felt myself coming to God often in prayer.  At the end of the year, I was glad we tried it! And upon completing the second grade, Devynn decided she wanted to homeschool every other year and so she returned to her school for third grade (and it was good timing since I had baby Kash at the beginning of the school year).

homeschool-studio-4 Well, here we are now and we are starting another year of homeschooling (every other year) and we are excited about our time together again!

This year we are using Sonlight curriculum.  What is nice about Sonlight is that they have all of your lesson plans for every subject prepared so that you have very minimal planning time.  This is perfect for me at this stage in my life because of the four kids I’m trying to keep up with!

homeschool-studio-8 If you’ve ever considered homeschooling, here are some books that I found helpful for both considering homeschooling, and then later actually homeschooling!

The Homeschool Experiment (A quick, funny, easy read about a mom’s first year of homeschooling)

A Thomas Jefferson Education (Probably the most meaningful book I read for home education)

Dumbing Us Down (Thoughts about public schools from a public school teacher)

The Well-Trained Mind (Subtitle: “A Guide to Classical Education at Home”)

Teaching the Trivium (How to teach classical style–lots of info, just flip through for specific needs)

Educating the WholeHearted Child (Written by an author I respect based upon other books she has written)

homeschool-studio-1 You will find that when reading about homeschooling, some authors have vastly different perspectives than you do regarding homeschooling; just use the information you find helpful, and discard the rest.  There are lots of different perspectives about homeschooling and I find that my family has its own unique identity among this group.  Each family will have different ideologies and that’s fine!

Cheers to a wonderful school year!

*Note: All images came from my actual homeschool studio 🙂

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My Shadow

Beautiful story from this past Saturday morning…

{I typically wake up early so that I can do Bible study/reading/prayer in the quiet of the morning without interruptions or distractions.  After I finish I either go on a run, or out to our shop to workout indoors.}

In the darkness of an early Saturday morning I came around the corner of our kitchen headed to the office when a sweet little girl met me with her purple Bible in hand and said in the most pleasing voice ever I want to do my Bible study with you.

And my heart melted a thousand times over.

C’mon babe, let’s go study together.  As we snuggled together under blankets, me stroking her hair, and us talking about the verses we read (both of us ignoring the other’s morning breath), I silently praised the Lord that my little girl had such a huge desire to learn about God and study her Bible, even at the young age of six years old.  We closed in prayer and then I asked her if she’d like to run with me.

After bundling up in warm clothes we headed out of the house and into a beautiful morning.  My heart was swollen and humbled–why is God so good to me?

We ran together for 2.6 miles–really good for her first time!  It was a little hard for her to keep her pace and she alternated between sprinting and walking!  It was a wonderful crisp morning and we enjoyed talking, smiling, laughing together, and watching the sun creep up.

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Lord, thank you for this treasure!

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Thank you for this sweet girl who was beautifully and wonderfully made by You, Lord. Thank you for her love for me. Let me never take for granted the gift of being a mommy.

 

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Bluest Eyes in Texas

All 3 of my kiddos get red in the face very easily whenever they are out in the sun, or when they are physically exerting themselves.  Their bright red faces sure make the blue in their eyes pop!

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Love all of my blue-eyed babies 🙂

 

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Today, A Good Start

My day always starts best when it begins with two things: exercise–usually in the form of a nice run with one of my canine friends–and some time with God.  I took this picture last year after a wonderfully crisp morning run. I hadn’t had much exercise in a while and I so desperately needed the endorphins that exercise gives. When I finished running and returned home my spirit was as light as a feather and I spent some time on the front porch watching the sun rise and reading the Word.

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It totally changed the rest of my day and I had more energy, love, and capability than I’d had in a while! One daily devotional I really enjoy right now is Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.  It’s quick but touching; it’s written in first person as if Jesus is talking personally to you.  I am also beginning a new Bible study called Living Beyond Yourself by Beth Moore.  It’s one of her older studies (1998-ish) and I’m working through it over the course of ten weeks with a group of moms that has children at the school our kids attend.  I always love Beth Moore studies and I’m sure this one which involves studying the Fruit of the Spirit will be great.

When I need workout inspiration, I turn to Pinterest. It is inspiring to see others’ tips and ideas, and for me personally it keeps me from getting in a rut of doing the same old thing. One of my favorite pins is Your Best Butt!

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Pinned from http://backonpointe.tumblr.com.

So today is off to a good start…let’s see if I can go accomplish a shower 🙂

 

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Coming Soon: Spring Break

The weather is warming, the sun is shining, and the grass is just beginning to turn green!  Of course that was yesterday, and today is cold and windy.  It’s always hard to tell whether we will have an early Spring or a late Winter.  Not that we really have seasons at all in Texas.

My mind is wandering to a warm Earth.  What will I plant in my garden this year?  I will most certainly be doing things a little differently than last year!  Where will I be during Spring Break? A nice outdoor trip sounds wonderful for Spring Break.

As I’ve been combing my way through thousands of 2012 pictures, I found a couple of pictures from last year around Spring Break.

This one makes me laugh…who is more distressed in this picture?

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And then we have Aunt Jess trying to teach Devynn how to rope.

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Cousins at the zoo.

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Mom and Jess…traveling with their Allsup’s always refreshing sodas 🙂

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Granny Joy and her great-grandson.

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And Devynn in her sombrero.

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A lot has changed in one year and I’m looking forward to what spring and 2013 has to bring.  What about you–what are your spring break plans and what will you be planting this spring?

 

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