Never Too Old For the Pumpkin Patch!

We hadn’t been to a pumpkin patch in years and I wanted to be more intentional about planning field trips with our church’s homeschool group, so I decided that a trip to a pumpkin patch in October would be perfect!  I knew that Brendan wouldn’t really want to go as a “participant”, so being the clever mom that I am 😉 , I decided that if he helped out with the kids, carried heavy pumpkins, etc. then I could count the trip toward his service hours.  He did a great job and actually had fun too…SCORE!

We visited Gallmeyer Farms in Henrico County and it was wonderful!  The employees were friendly and helpful and their sweet dogs roamed around visiting with the kids (we even saw a rooster or two).  Our group got to enjoy a picnic lunch, throw a football around, run through a hay maze, play on the playground, go on a hayride, choose pumpkins, and learn about honeybees.  I got a chance to visit with some old friends and time to get to know some new ones better.  I loved seeing the kids of all ages interacting with each other – that’s one of the best things about homeschooling.  Brendan and Ryan have lots of opportunities to spend time with many different people, not just kids their own age (which, by the way is how “the real world” is after graduation – LOL!).

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I know that these times with my boys are going to be fewer and fewer as they grow up, and so I treasure these memories that we are making!  The housework can wait.  Those schoolbooks will be there tomorrow.  Your e-mails can be answered later.  But taking the time to be together with family and friends can’t.  Kids grow up.  Family members move.  Loved ones pass away.  Don’t wait!


Weekly Wrap-Up:

***Disclaimer:  Some of the pictures later in this post may gross you  out 😉 ***


As a highschooler, Brendan needs several P.E. credits and my dad (who recently retired) graciously offered to teach tennis lessons.  I’m very thankful that we have this opportunity and that Brendan will get to spend some one-on-one time with his Pappy and learn how to play!






We’ve been plugging along with our regular assignments and both kids are doing well:







Ok, here comes the gross part!  Since Ryan is learning about amphibians, one of the suggested activities was to dissect a frog, so  I purchased our little friend  “Freddie” at the HEAV convention a few months ago.  He came prepackaged, preserved, and with a pre-assembled kit all ready to go 🙂 .











Stomach and Small Intestine






Vertebrae and Spinal Cord


LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the expression on Ryan’s face in this picture 🙂 !!!!!

Even though dissections can be pretty nasty, it really is amazing to study frogs and learn how God created the process of metamorphosis!


…and last, but not least:

As I started preparing for and thinking about middle and high school, I realized that although Justin and I have discussed the topic of drugs and alcohol with the kids, they haven’t had any “formal” substance abuse prevention courses since we’ve been homeschooling.  One of our neighbors is a retired DEA agent and he agreed to offer a crash course for our group.  We had a fantastic turn out and I think the presentation had a strong impact on the kids.  Mr. Dolan covered tobacco, alcohol, gateway drugs, inhalants, prescription drugs, marijuana, and even methamphetamines.  A favorite part of the class was when we all got to try on goggles that simulated what it feels to be highly intoxicated.  You can’t even walk straight, much less drive!  It’s so sad to see the negative (and often deadly) effects of drug abuse on so many lives.  I pray that all of the kids will remember the dangers and will stay far away from any of these harmful substances!

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Smoky Mountains

I can’t believe that it’s been almost two weeks since my last post!  We spent five nights camping in the Smoky Mountains (near Gatlinburg, Tennessee) last week and we’ve just been so busy that I haven’t had time to even sit down and write anything.  The mountains were beautiful and our RV site was on a small creek (I’ve always dreamed of having a babbling brook running through my yard…it was nice, even if it was only for a few nights 🙂 ).  We did all kinds of fun things including:

– Hatfield and McCoy dinner show

– Hiking (ok, more like gentle walking – LOL)

– Wonderworks

– The Tomb (an interactive ancient Egyptian tomb where we had to work together to solve puzzles and mysteries to escape)

– Titanic Museum

– Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster

– Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Oddities Museum (by the way…all Ripley’s museums give homeschoolers 1/2 price tickets!!!)

– Downtown Gatlinburg


The Jellystone campground that we stayed at had lots of fun activities too like candy bar bingo, hayrides, trick-or-treating, etc.  Justin and the boys treated me to a sweet little birthday party at the campsite, complete with cake and ice cream!  I love how Justin put it:  we were “celebrating the 12th anniversary of my 29th birthday” – ha, ha!

Even though we were all worn out and have had a lot to catch up on since we got home, I wouldn’t trade this time with my precious family for the world!  I’m so very grateful that we are able to take trips like this (and that the boys still like to hang out with us…well, most of the time anyway 🙂 ).

Sad –

Tired – Anxious –  Overwhelmed – Scared – Just “Blah”…. 

That’s how I felt.  For no real reason.

I had a strong faith in God, two beautiful boys (with the youngest being 2 months old), a supportive and loving husband, a beautiful home, a caring family, and many things to look forward to…except I didn’t – I couldn’t.  I had lost my spark.  My joy was gone.  I didn’t feel like doing anything…except lie in bed, but even as tired as I was I didn’t sleep well.  My husband tried to help by giving me time away from the kids, but I had no desire to do anything.  And I was crying –  a lot.  The breaking point was when my 2 1/2 year old son saw me crying one day and said, “don’t cry mommy…it’ll be ok.”

It was time to get help.  I did NOT want this to affect my kids!

Thankfully, my case was only mild depression brought on by a chemical imbalance caused by hormonal changes.  I was put on a low dose of Zoloft and felt better within a few weeks.  I have been on the meds since then.  I have tried several times to wean off of them, but started feeling the overwhelming sadness again.  My doctor told me that if I felt better on the low dose that I was taking with no negative side effects, that it was ok (even smart) to keep taking it.  And so, I am.

I still have low moments, but they are much more manageable now.  I have learned how to track my mood based on my monthly cycle.  I remind myself that how I’m feeling is normal (for me anyway).  That it will pass and I’ll feel more like myself soon.  And I always have.

I am very blessed that my depression was easily treated with medication.  It’s not that easy for others.  It may take several different methods to help others with depression including various medications, therapy, etc.  And I want you to know that it is OK.  There is no reason to be ashamed if you need help.

We all will need help at some time in our lives.  We all have struggles.

So please, share your story.  Tell others. 

It may help somebody who is struggling with similar issues to know that they are not alone.

Time To Share

We made homemade butter Monday.  I remember doing it as a young child and realized that Brendan and Ryan had never done it!  Isn’t making butter a required rite of passage for all school children?!?  Obviously, it wasn’t on Brendan’s list of assignments for the day, but we made him come up and shake the jar for a few minutes too  🙂 – our arms were burning!  After adding some salt, it was really good!  Now I can check that activity off the list – whew!






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Ryan and I are finishing up our study of birds and have been learning about the digestive system.  We have seen LOTS of birds (and unfortunately a few squirrels 😦 ) on our bird feeder that we made last week!



After not finding a nest last week on our nature walk (who knew it would be so hard to find one?), my sweet neighbors, John and Jennifer let us dig through one of their bushes to get a cardinal’s nest.  It was cool (minus the bugs and  spiders) to take it apart and see what the birds had used to build it!






Below are some pictures of  a few other subjects that we’ve been working on:









Ryan was excited to pick up his ribbons and photos from the fair – he’s already thinking about and planning his pictures for next year!




I can’t end this this post without bringing to your attention that this week is Mental Illness Awareness Week.  A dear friend of mine suffered the tragic loss of one of her family members last week due to a struggle with severe depression.  That precious family is now clinging to the  following verse :

Romans 8:28

Their prayer is that by bringing awareness to mental illness and removing the stigma that it often carries, that somebody will realize that they are not alone in this struggle.  That it’s ok to reach out for help.  That another family may be spared the horrific pain of losing their loved one.

And so, I will be sharing more about this over the next few days…including my own story.