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Why I Will Always Teach My Children Black Lives Matter

I recently read a book called Calling Me Home. A thirty-something, black hairdresser, Dorrie,  is driving one of her most loyal clients turned friend, Isabelle, from Texas to Ohio for a funeral. She’s a spunky 89-year-old woman with a story to tell. Along the way, Isabelle reveals she was once in love with a black man when it was not just uncommon but deadly for both of them, and shares her life story with Dorrie. It was a wonderfully insightful book and a heartbreaking love story.

While I was reading in the backyard, my six-year-old asked me what my book was about. When I told her, her exact words were: “well, daddy is black” (he’s not) “do people not like that you’re with him?” Thus led us to a conversation about how far we’ve come in America (and all over the world) and how much further we still have to go. And my realization that I cannot merely teach my children to be “colorblind” because there is no such thing.


  1. Because I believe in Christ. This is the number one reason Black Lives Matter, and why I will make sure my children know. I believe in God, and I believe that Christ rose from the dead after dying for you and me. “You” being whoever is reading this; never mind the color of your skin. He didn’t give his love freely to others, but withhold it from you. He didn’t make some work hard for His love because of the color of their family while giving it on a silver platter only to those with ivory skin. We cannot praise Moses for saying “LET MY PEOPLE GO!” only to continue not to support the black community trying to be freed from stereotypes and oppression.
  2. Because no one should fear walking down the street in their own neighborhood. In Calling Me Home, the small town Isabelle lives in has a sign at the city limits that says anyone of color in town, after dark, basically has a death wish. They could work for them during the day but needed to be gone by nightfall. This broke my heart. Schools teach you about Martin Luther King and all of his peaceful protesting, about sit-ins, and Rosa Parks but they never get into the nitty-gritty of the before, let alone the after. There are censors over the truth, over anything REAL. To protect the children from the scary realities. What about the children that lived through it and their kids, and their kids, kids? How can we tell them everyone is equal when the very people who are raising them know that it’s not because they’ve lived it? And what about when they witness first hand that it’s not? The fear or the disdain they were taught becomes justified and usually before they’re even old enough to understand! How do we continue to preach the absolute success of movements from more than half a century ago when there are people, people, still living out what we claim is fixed? I will not teach this part of history to my children with a sense of finality. I will teach it only with an open end.
  3. Because equality does not look the same. Unless The Giver becomes a reality (Lord help us all), there will not ever be a day people are “color blind.” We SEE IN COLOR, but in doing so, we should not assume one color is better than the other. A child knows their friend is lighter or darker compared to their skin, they just don’t pay it any mind because it doesn’t matter to them. They’re children with no agenda other than play. I will teach my kids a pound of apples and a pound of oranges are equal but not the same. Society tells children to embrace their uniqueness but does not always practice what they preach.
  4. Because Black people are not dead. I am not a sympathizer. Black people are not dead and gone. This is not a funeral where you hand out cards of sympathy and condolences. They need support. Whether it be standing in a picket line, being the first in your family to openly admit and agree that Black Lives Matter, or teaching your children the truth and not the watered down, textbook version of Civil Rights. The BLM movement is not a group of people claiming race superiority; they’re a group of individuals seeking support not just from within their own race, but outside of it as well.

Support for Black Lives Matter stands for real equality. Stands for real change. And stands for real information. The real question should be why the majority of us are not supporting our future? If your only thought after reading this goes to the BLM extremists, please consider whether or not Westboro Baptist, too, represents all Christian beliefs.

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Old Things, New View: Microscope Study

Just before Easter Sunday, we got a brand new Microscope in the mail. We were so excited to use it, but we didn’t have time since we hosted Easter at our house and were spending every free moment cleaning up and doing yard work. So Monday we took a peek at a few random things to curb our curiosity until our slides came in (slowest four days EVER) and I could get our printable Microscope Journals made up.

We looked at a few different things:

The hair of a My Little Pony horse
Ripped end of a paper towel


We splurged a little and got a microscope with the option to use a USB lens so we can all look at the slides at the same time. For families with multiple children, this is where. It’s. At. I can hook it up to my laptop and not once did anyone become antsy to have a turn. They could all see it! Plus, I can save cool pictures of what we looked at.

It cured our itch to use the microscope, but we still had a lot to learn at this point. We didn’t know anything about how to identify the things we saw, how to properly focus the microscope or even use the light! We totally winged it. The next day we studied up on how to properly use a microscope. AND THEN, this happened:

Yay, the slides came!

School 168School 182

I created Microscope Journals for all of the kids (you can snag one here for free!), and we went through each part of the microscope, so we knew what we were dealing with and which knobs did what. We chose a feather, the torn end of construction paper, and pond water from our property. I love these pre-prepared slides. They’re the bee’s knees because the kids always have something to look at when they feel like using the microscope but don’t want to prepare their own slides. (Read: when I don’t want the mess of slide prep on my table.)

The younger kids didn’t write out a hypothesis in their journals, but they drew the pictures of what the item looked like with the naked eye and then under the microscope. They liked this.

Microscope Journal

All in all, this was a fun activity and seeing the algae in the water was cool. We’re now waiting on our dye to come in the mail so we can see all of the micro-organisms in water from different places. We’re going to take samples of water in our yard, and at a few parks to compare them; I’m excited to do this!


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Today I Was A Bad Mom

Today, I was a bad mom. I made the kids stop painting and clean up their rooms. I made them clean up the water on the floor they tracked in after playing in the water hose. I made them wait to use the microscope until I was done nursing the baby so I could better supervise the use of an expensive and fragile piece of equipment.

Today, I was a bad mom.

Days like this are the worst. They break you down and beat you up. It’s not so much the task of actually doing these things; it’s the huffs and puffs in reply to a request, and then screams and yells when your requests have to turn into demands. “Can you please clean up the water you tracked in, so we don’t slip?” “You have to clean up the water before moving on to something else!”

Today, I was a bad mom.

I require the kids to shut the door every time they go in and out. Bad mom. The three-year-old couldn’t find his underwear, and lost them. Bad mom. I asked the oldest to chew with his mouth closed. Bad mom. Some days, these simple things aren’t noticeable. They’re just part of everyday living, no one gets mad, and the day goes on. But some days, when sleep wasn’t peaceful, moods are sour, and the day is filled with less than fun school work or chores I’m a bad mom.

Homeschooling is hard on good days. Heck, parenting is hard on good days.  It’s all worth it, though. Do you remember why you chose this life? Cling to that. It’s what gets us through the bad days. The days when it’s easy to forget. The days your kids call you “the ultimate party-pooper.” Yup, my eight-year-old called me that earlier. It’s what I’m doing today, and what I have to do many days. Because I’m a bad mom.

today i was 1 (1)

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Facebook Giveaway!

So, I just launched the Facebook page for Schoolin’ Reyes and to mark this awesomeness I’ve got a giveaway going on!

Hayden has become super interested in early America. We’re gearing up to do some more in-depth studying on the subject. A friend of mine is a homeschool author, who, a few years ago wrote a book that takes place in 1774: A Different Kind of Courage. It’s historical fiction, so while some of the characters aren’t real, others are! It’s neat to travel back in time and imagine what it was like. I read this book on my own a couple of years ago and couldn’t put it down! Now we’re going to read it as a family to help satisfy Hayden’s interest in the colonial times and you can too!

Sarah is an author, homeschool alumna, and a blogger over at The Destiny of One. Here’s a little bit from her:

Sarah Holman
Picture from

“Hi! My name is Sarah Holman. I’m a twenty-six-year-old homeschool graduate and full time author. When I am not writing, I love hanging out with my family, taking long walks, and playing piano.”

So, if you haven’t already, head over to and comment on this post for your chance to win A Different Kind of Courage and check Sarah out on to have a look at all of her books!

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Top Five Reasons We Homeschool

Why did you decide to homeschool? It’s a question we get asked often. Usually, I’ll get anxious, or overly excited they asked and say stupid things like, “it’s so nice to sleep in” (which we usually don’t) or “it’s easier on us.” These two things aren’t even on my radar when it comes to why we’re a homeschooling family. The signal from my brain to my mouth seems to always malfunction in times like these and I just want to scream, “Wait! Come back! That’s not what I meant to say!”Oops. So, here are the top five reasons (Yes, another list) we choose to homeschool our kids:

To be closer to the children. I started homeschooling thinking it was all going to work out exactly how I planned it in my new planner and if we got off course I would worry we were missing something, but then I realized the purpose of homeschooling is to enjoy being together. That is more important than what I had written in the planner or what that fancy, new curriculum says I should do. I still have rough days. Days where I would love the house to be quieter, or a mess just cleaned up to stay clean,  but I can honestly say I enjoy it all. The good and the bad days spent with the kids are just that; time spent with them.

To allow them to be who they want. Hubs and I are firm believers that not everyone is going to go to college, get a great paying office job, and live in the suburbs. If our children want to work with their hands, or stay home and raise babies, we support that one hundred percent and want to help them be successful by laying the foundation to those trades. (I’m getting on my soapbox here) I feel the ability to see the success of celebrities, and self-made billionaires is so accessible with T.V. and social media that the world sometimes forgets some people enjoy blue-collar jobs and working hard. Herman is a hard worker and wouldn’t last two days in an office job. He likes working hard and being able to step back and see the work he has accomplished with his hands. In a lot of fields, experience trumps a degree. If Hayden wants to be a woodworker (which unless there’s a techy way to do it, he won’t) I want him to start NOW. I want him to be able to spend all of his free time whittling away so that he can start young. I want him to learn the essentials of running a good business and how to build one up from the ground. If Lylah wants to stay home and raise babies, I want to teach her all of the things about running a house I didn’t know when we started out. If Ella seeks to be a doctor, we will make sure she’s taking the right high school courses, learning everything that will be helpful to her in college, as well as give her the opportunity to take college classes during the day as a teen if she’s able. We can grow their resumes with jobs or volunteer work other kids can’t do because they’re in school and they can work odd hours to earn money for college (or life). These things will help set them apart when it comes to college applications or job interviews.

To shelter the children. Uh-oh. I said the “S” word, but I want to shelter their young hearts. I don’t want them to be hardened by the world. Not even a little. I want them to have soft, kind hearts so that people can see and feel Christ in them. Being hyper-aware of worldly things only leads to trouble. We will shelter our children so they can be the good in the world. We’re a pretty open family and always answer questions they have and never say things like, “mom just goes to the doctor, and the baby comes home with her. Just like that!” That’s right; heads up play date mamas, my kids KNOW how babies come out. Hard subjects are discussed in our home openly and without deception. So it’s not like they’re hiding out in our bomb shelter and are vitamin D deficient. (HOW COOL WOULD IT BE TO HAVE A BOMB SHELTER, THOUGH!?) We only want them to learn about things as they become curious.

To allow them to be themselves. I don’t ever want our kids to waste one second of their life trying to be like someone else or worrying whether or not the popular kid likes them. If they’re quirky and goofy, that’s who I want them to be. If they’re serious and an old soul, I want them to feel comfortable in their skin. I’m not living in a bubble. I know children can achieve this in school, but I know my kids and can already tell who would and wouldn’t. I don’t want them to follow the crowd and then after high school is over realize that’s not the kind of person they want to be in life. (Speaking from experience here.)

To let them be little. This one is newer. Starting out this never crossed my mind. Now, I wholeheartedly support learning through play. It’s what childhood should be made of. The goal of school in our home is to foster the love of learning. Elementary school teachers all across America are wishing they could spend more time playing during the day but they can’t. Their jobs depend on it. We homeschool so our children have the opportunity to learn through early childhood play and I’m so grateful for the ability to do so.

We’re proud to let our homeschool flag fly!


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Homeschooling and Homeschool Haters

As a sweet friend of mine once said, “you can always find something on the internet to support how you feel.” This could not be truer! There is always someone out there in this big world that will agree 100% with your view on a situation. The internet will have blogs, studies, and statistics to back up each of your opinions. There’s also an unlimited amount of the same places that argue your point is invalid.

When we first started homeschooling, I would constantly ask others questions about how their days looked, how they felt about our routine, and what kind of activities they participated in. We would obviously need to do those things, too. I was continuously seeking approval of those I love, and even random people in the grocery store who wanted to know why my kids weren’t in school like “normal” children. It’s just the way I’m wired. I have my own opinions, but I also want to know what others think too. It’s a vice I have to give up to God daily.

I was so concerned with being a homeschooling family everyone would approve of. In my mind, we could be the homeschoolers that even those who don’t like the idea of homeschooling would say, “Gee, that family really changed my mind.”  HA! All my homeschooling homies are laughing with (or at) me right now! The truth is that there will always be people who don’t agree with your calling to keep your children home. Some will quietly judge from the sidelines, others with talk about how you’re “probably ruining” your kids when you’re not around, and others will flat out share their not so subtle opinions with you…. whether you ask them to or not.

Here’s a list of common misconceptions and why, for my family, they’re not true:

  1. Homeschooling is easier. Being homeschooled does not mean all of those pesky subjects none of us enjoyed in school magically disappear. If you want your child to have any hope for a successful future in college, they’re going to have to suck it up and do stuff they just don’t want to do. In my house, we frequently say, “suck it up, Buttercup.” I’m aware this may not be everyone’s choice in parenting strategy, but it works in my world and they usually, well, suck it up. It’s definitely easier for me to not have all of the kids dressed and at school by 8:00 a.m., but I also have to teach, feed, and control them all day while constantly reminding them they have to clean up their messes. Yes, that is glitter in my hair and puff paint on my lovely new top. So, let’s call it even?
  2. Homeschoolers are awkward and shy. Everyone close your eyes, and think back… just kidding. Don’t, ’cause then you can’t keep reading. But, seriously, think back to your years in school. Remember that awkward kid? The one who was painfully shy, super weird, and anti-social? Maybe you remember one particular person. Maybe that person was you- hey, no judgment here. Either way, it just proves homeschooling isn’t the only reason some kids are different. It has more to do with personality and home environment than where they attend (or don’t attend) school.
  3. Homeschoolers should be quizzed by everyone. No. Just don’t. Not only can it amplify anxieties a child may already have with certain subjects, but it is also a super awkward situation. Homeschooled or not, it’s weird when a family member, friend, or random adult assumes there is ever an appropriate time to test your child’s knowledge. Then, if the child doesn’t know those things, or responds to an awkward situation, well, awkwardly it’s clearly because they’re homeschooled.
  4. Homeschool moms have a lot of patience. Do you hear that? That sound, my friends, is the sound of my fellow homeschoolin’ mamas giggling with me. Y’all, my patience is paper thin sooo often. Even on days, I wake up feeling like Mrs. Brady, I get put in my place REAL quick. We live on grace. The Lords grace is how we manage the chaos. Our patience is no more structurally sound than yours, I promise.
  5. But, socialization!! I’m not even going to lie, my family is WAY less active than 99% of our homeschooling friends. All of my kids are still young, and other than the occasional play date or church you can find us at home, the park, or the grocery store. My oldest will sometimes play organized sports, but just that stretches us thin with so many littles. Still, we have no shortage of friends at birthday parties. Plus, I have a secret… you don’t HAVE to meet all of your friends at school! I know, I know!
  6. Homeschool moms can’t complain. Honestly, complaining from anyone is the worst. No one likes a complainer.  But, sometimes homeschooling mamas just need to vent. Yes, we know we “put ourselves in that situation.” Of course, “it’s always an option to send them to school,” but waving down the bus on hard days isn’t the option we’re looking for. Homeschooling moms have a fear of venting their frustrations because of statements like those. We’re no different than the average parent trying to figure out why in the world Stacy bought 400 chocolate bars.

I’m not implying everyone you run into will disagree with your decision to homeschool. In fact, you will be pleasantly surprised with the amount of support that will come from the places you least expect. I’m also not saying that it’s wrong to disagree with homeschooling. Let’s all just agree to abide by the old rule, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

If any of these things hit close to home, I feel you. Hold steady, Mama. We can laugh about these things because at the end of the day only The Lord knows what’s true, and what’s right. We’re under no obligation to look like anyone else. If we were meant to look like the world, God would have sent a sinner.

“Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches.”

1 Corinthians 7:17

Homeschooling, and Homeschool haters (1).png

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Introducing Us Part Five: Meet Emma

This post has been so hard to write. Not because I don’t love Emma, because HELLLOO, she’s a doll. But because she’s so tiny, and we don’t actually have any goals or requirements. I could say we require he to sleep through the night, but she’s not exactly a rule follower. I mean, we want her to continue to grow(but, not too big. Mama can’t handle it!)… so, there’s one!

Meet my current obsession, Emma Faye. Named after her great, great grandma Maniccia and her great grandma (Nana) Maniccia. This adorable, squishy baby makes my heart melt every day. She’s been the ultimate adventure for our family; introducing us to new things since the day she was born. Both exciting and scary.

Emma’s first church service at four days old. (Oct. 16th)

Emma’s birth was a sigh of relief. After the loss of Benjamin and the scary ride that was, I was a little worried about having another baby. Pair that with the fact that I didn’t instantly become pregnant again and you have the perfect storm for mama-worry. Emma is more than three years younger than Ryder; making that the largest gap in age between all of our children. (Yes, I’m very much aware that we DO NOT struggle with infertility and I am grateful for that.)

The other kids were “easy”. If we even thought the word pregnant- we were. Emma was a process. I prayed for her. Over, and over again. It was the perfect opportunity for me to practice putting all of my trust in God; to remember that I must trust God’s will and timing. Whether it’s what I hope for or not. Those two years were hard for me.

I had a lot of blood pressure issues during pregnancy, and it ultimately led to an afternoon doctor’s visit turning into an induction! That was the first of many surprises Emma gave us during her first few weeks of life. In fact, she gave us a lot of firsts. She was the first:Emma2

  • of my daughters to have a baby shower (it was pink and perfect because my friends rock!)
  • to be born after midnight
  • to have jaundice that required hospitalization
  • to have Umbilical Granuloma
  • to have an umbilical hernia

She was a beautiful mess from the day she was born but we couldn’t love her more. I thought loving Ryder was a whole new experience, but I had no idea what was in store. The first few months I just couldn’t put her down! Now she’s totally attached, and unless she’s wrapped on my back I can’t get anything done. This would have made me crazy a few years ago, but I love it.

Emma is six months old today, and I’m still trying to figure out where HALF A YEAR has gone! We love her so much and are incredibly proud to be her parents. Since I don’t have much else to say, here’s some picture of the cute baby!

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Hey, Wildflower! (Identifying Central Texas wildflowers in our own backyard)


Central Texas wildflowers are in full bloom! Over the next few weeks, we’re going to be working on identifying all of the different types of plants native to Central Texas. Since the wildflowers are out and looking beautiful, I decided to start here. The kids love it, and I enjoy the time spent studying outside. Stay tuned for more posts about the cool plants we’ll be finding and pressing in the next few weeks. It’s all part of our new organic style of homeschooling and our goal to love learning.  We’re so excited to see and name each one. This is the first time ever our family has gone out to pick flowers with the intent to identify each one! We didn’t have a large variety of flowers on our property, but we were excited to find what we did. It was also an excellent opportunity to snag some long grass for weaving on the loom!


So, with coffee in hand (for my tired eyes) we headed out early to beat the impending rain. The weatherman says it’s going to rain the entire week, so we’ll work on pressing them in the following days to label, and then some for an Easter craft with the cousins!

Here is what we have an endless supply of in our yard:

Texas Dandelion Texas Dandelion – Pyrrhopappus multicaulis

The kids love that the dandelions stay open in the morning but close when the sun is high in the sky. It’s a new surprise every morning when our green afternoon pastures are speckled with yellow the next day.

wildflowers-014.jpgTexas Vervain – Verbena Halei (and Ella)

These are so pretty and remind me of lavender! I like simple, and these are right up my ally. All of the Texas Vervain we found on our property were purple, but they grow with white flowers as well.

Slender Stem Bitterweed (Hymenoxys scaposa)Slender Stem Bitterweed (Hymenoxys scaposa)

These look so similar to the Texas Dandelions but are much smaller. The girls really like them, and we actually found this one with a bee completely covered in pollen. So much so, he had a hard time flying away! I couldn’t get my camera ready in time to catch it, though.  Hopefully, he made it safely back to his hive!

wildflowers-019.jpgEvening Primrose (Oenothera speciosa)

Did you know these are not called buttercups?? I didn’t! That’s what I’ve always called them. The kids love putting them up to their noses to see the pollen stick.

Hymenopappus scabiosaeus L'Hér.  Carolina woollywhite, Old Plainsman, Woolly-WhiteCarolina wooly white, Old Plainsman, Woolly-White (Hymenopappus scabiosaeus L’Hér)

This pretty little (well, big) thing goes by many names. I had no idea what this plant was called, and it took the kids and me quite a while to find it online. Most of what we found didn’t have the pink colored blooms like this one. It’s fun to find all the different looking flowers that are actually the same thing! is the website we used to find what we were looking for. It’s by far the easiest to navigate, and it’s color-coded! While we don’t have the Texas staples like Mexican Hats, Indian Paintbrushes, and Bluebonnets (below are some we have pressed and ready to label) in our yard, we’re excited to have what we do!

pressed flowers
From left to right: Indian Paintbrush, Bluebonnet, Indian Blanket Flower, Brown Eyed Susan

What’s your favorite wildflower?

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Five Reason We have an Outdoor Loom and Why You should Too

A couple months back I saw a pin on Pinterest with an outdoor loom. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. Okay, maybe not ever, but I reeeeally liked it and my mind began to tick off all the awesome ways it would be amazing for our homeschool. If you’re not familiar with what this is, don’t feel left out. I wasn’t either. An outdoor loom is used the same as, well, an indoor loom. Only, instead of just yarn or other cloth materials, you use things found outside. Sticks, long grass, pretty flowers, and whatever else you can find. We also use scrap yarn and fabric (we’ve totally caught the birds stealing some) from my stash. You end up with a pretty piece of outdoor art that has SO many benefits for little hands.Outdoor Loom side 1

So a few weeks ago I decided while scanning Pinterest on a Saturday morning it was time for us to build one. Once upon a time, there was a swing in our backyard. It’s long gone now but the wooden frame is still there. Score one for this mama on a mission. It’s also in an “A” shape. Score two. My mind instantly saw a play hut! I wrapped the wire around all sides for a couple of passes. I used wire because we have no plans of cutting down our final product, and we want it to be sturdy, but for something less permanent or easy to cut, yarn would work fine. Once I got to about the kid’s height I stopped wrapping around one of the short sides and then continued almost all the way down the other sides. I left a gap at the bottom so we can easily mow and weed-eat around the whole thing to prevent snakes (eek!) from hiding in the kids hide-a-way. Check out our Instagram for more photos!

Five Reasons why we love our outdoor loom (1)

  1. Fine Motor Skills: With a house full of small children I’m constantly searching for ways to work their fine motor muscles, and weaving is a wonderful way to do so. They have to work whatever medium they’re using in and out of the wire, and that requires skill. Reaching in, pinching the grass between their fingers, and the simple act of weaving the items in and out of the wire all do just that.
  2. Hand-Eye Coordination: Did you think only sports did this? Nope. Weaving is great for hand-eye coordination, too! You can’t always ensure whatever you’re weaving is going to go over and under exactly where you intend. That’s where hand-eye coordination comes in. See? (Pun totally intended) While a good game of catch works so does weaving.
  3. Patience: A loom doesn’t fill overnight. It takes time. Lots of time. When we first put it up Hayden said, “I’m going to fill up the sides right now so we can have walls!” After weaving for a good hour he realized it was going to take much longer than he first thought. Not only does it take time to fill the loom, it takes time to weave. If you’re too forceful the twig could snap, or the grass could tear. Gentle patience. It’s a slow process.
  4. Relaxing: Weaving will relax you. No lie. The kids get quiet from their need to focus, and it becomes a silent activity. The repetition is calming, and once you get into a “groove” your mind can wander. Pair that with the sweet sounds of nature and it’s bliss. I enjoy the loom, for this reason, the most.
  5. History Lessons: Weaving is dated back to more than 25,000 years ago. (SAY WHAT?!) Since then we know it’s been used all over the world. It’s a wonderful skill to have that was once basic knowledge, and in some countries still is. There’s always a new lesson to learn every time we weave! The Industrial Revolution put weaving “out of style” like so many other things, but who’s to say we may not need the skill one day in the future?

If none of these reasons make you want to build a loom in your yard, there’s always the fact that they’re pretty!

Loom view 2

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Introducing Us Part Four: Meet Ryder

Oh, my sweet Ryder. You would think the more children you have, the less of an exciting experience it would be. That, as you get to your fourth or fifth child, it would just be another day. Another walk in the same old park. But, it’s not. With each child looms the possibility of there not being another baby. Ever. For some, this may be a joyful idea. For mamas in large families who enjoy continuing to carry (maybe not this part so much), and eventually hold new, tiny babies (YAS) this is sad. Ryder was the first child I felt that. He was the first time after pregnancy Herman said, “You better love that baby, ’cause we’re not having anymore.” (LOL, LOL, LOL) So I held him tighter. I held him longer; even though I knew, Herman probably didn’t mean what he said. I let him be a baby even at times when, with the others, I probably wouldn’t have. After Ryder, I got pregnant again. I went into labor at about 20 weeks, but they weren’t able to stop it. I think losing Benjamin put into perspective how joyful experiencing every single moment of the first years really are.

Ryder and I still have a special “thing.” I don’t really know what to call it. Saying “bond” sounds extra cheesy with a side of parm. I expected a certain level of independence out of the other kids by the age of three that I just don’t from Ryder. I still see him as a toddler. Which he is. (We’ve come full circle to that whole live, and learn parenting thing I talked about in Introducing Us Part Three) Babies just don’t keep, and it’s more noticeable with each child.

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Meet Ryder. He’s a ball of energy dipped in sugar; the sugar makes the energy sweet. He loves his momma (and I love him more). He’s a smart boy who loves to work with his hands, bake cookies, and crack eggs at breakfast… lunch… and dinner. The kitchen is his favorite place to be, with outside in the dirt a close second. He takes two to three showers a day, and Y’all, they’re needed before he’s allowed to crawl in my bed at night. Yeah, that’s right. MY bed, and when he’s not there I MISS HIM! What kind of sorcery is this? I love him more than my heart can handle.

Ryder is wild. There’s no denying it, and if you know my family, personally you probably were thinking it. One of the first times Daddy ever spanked him, he looked him directly in the eyes and said, “that not hurt.” Yup. Trouble with a capital “T.” You know those kids in public places that you say, “Goodness. That mom needs to control that child.” THAT IS RYDER! THAT’S HIM! Sorry for yelling. Seriously, I feel their pain now, and I’m so sorry for my Judgy McJudgerson glances.

We’re learning more every day about our sweet boy. How he ticks, what he’s about to do next (mostly so we can stop it), and what works for him so we can give him the best learning experience possible. People always use the phrase “terrible twos” to describe two-year-olds. My theory is that those people have never had the opportunity, or forgot what it’s like to parent a three-year-old. For real, yall. At two, they’re just curious. They want to know more about everything, and it’s an innocent kind of curiosity that can be confused with misbehavior…. a lot. At two there’s no real understanding of right or wrong. But, three? Oh, boy. This is the “I’m gonna see just how far I can take this before you step in” age. It doesn’t last. They turn four, a switch flips and (for a while) you get your baby back. He’s almost there, and I’m ready. His adventurous spirit is enough to make a conquistador question where we’re going.

While there’s not much to say on schooling for Ryder, we do have certain expectations for him. These are the things that are part of being in our family, as well as the list of what we expect out of each age. (I talk more about this in Introducing Us Part Three).

Here’s a sample of what we look for in a child Ryders age:

  1. Knowledge of basic colors (so not colors like turquoise or beige)
  2. Ability to count to ten
  3. Sort shapes, colors, and animal groups. Farm animals, water animals, etc..
  4. Ability to follow simple directions
  5. Simple household chores like emptying bathroom trash, sorting or folding laundry, washing cabinets, cleaning and putting away clutter, and other small tasks
  6. Easy kitchen tasks like cutting fruits and vegetables, setting the table and cracking eggs

A lot of what is learned for his age repeats with some variety and increasing difficulty for the next few years. Life skills are the majority of what we focus on. The constant need to “keep up” hits me often, but I resist. Ryder’s favorite book is right now is “Love You Forever.” While I think it’s kinda creepy, (don’t lie, you know you do too.. That lady gets a ladder and crawls in his second story window at night!) it’s just another nightly reminder that babies don’t keep. “That little boy grew. He grew, and he grew, and he grew.”