Monday, August 14, 2017

White Pines Academy 2017-2018

We are heading into a new school year here at White Pine's Academy (the name we've given our little home school - with white pines all around our little bit of land). It's new territory for us - having for the first time two children to officially teach (Ezra in grade K and Canaan in grade 2). I know it will be an adjustment for us, but we'll get there. I'm so thankful to have discovered and experienced last year the beauty and freedom found in a Charlotte Mason education (with some Montessori and Waldorf in there as well). Through implementing her philosophy we have witnessed our kids make connections, grow an even deeper love for good literature, share bonding experiences, and be immersed in nature exploring, learning, and experiencing the beauty and wonder of creation up close. 

We also discovered Wild+Free this past year, and joined in the current of other families as they intentionally simplify, slow down, preserve childhood, form a rich grace-filled family culture, and strengthen relationships. This may be strange to say, but it is a magical time to be homeschooling, with Wild+Free growing rapidly and bringing light to the beauty and freedom that can be found in living this lifestyle. I have learned SO much from these Wild+Free moms, and the community is just a treasure. Doing this homeschool thing is not always easy by any means, but it's such a huge blessing to be able to live this life, and it's just the right fit for our kiddos and our family.


Wild+Free Podcast
Wild+Free Instagram
Read Aloud Revival
Jodi Mockabee

Narration / Main Lesson Books 
Jennifer Naraki
Last Child in the Woods (I recommend this book for any family - not just homeschoolers!)

Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Chickens

Three weeks ago we welcomed 8 baby chicks to our little world. The first three, named by the kiddos, are Peck (Ezra's), Penny (Canaan's), and Ellie (Lainey's), and the rest we named of course after the cast of Hamilton... Hercules Mulligan, Angelica, Eliza, Theodosia, and Peggy. We're hoping for a nice steady production of eggs once they are mature. :)

Today they are three weeks old and it's 80 degrees outside... so we thought it was about time we introduced them to the world outside the brooder. We have two Isa Browns/Comets (known for -- I kid you not -- their cuddly nature), one Silver Laced, one Barred Rock, two Easter Eggers (known for their blue and green eggs), one Brahma (with feathery feet), one Speckled Sussex.

Our Isa Brown (Comet)... Peggy

My cuddly Peggy. She had just before climbed onto me and just about fell asleep. 

Theadosia - our little escape artist who HATES being held

Eliza taking flight

Angelica & Eliza

Penny, our biggest that we fear might be a rooster because of his size (we had a 90% certainty of all females)

All the single ladies!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Three Years

Today marks 37 years for this momma. The not-so-secret thing about my birthday is that my favorite thing about it is that on this day, three years ago, a little girl was brought into a small conference room in Hangzhou, China - in the arms of her aya (nanny), who placed her into mine. And for the first time I laid eyes on this child of mine who we had on our hearts for years, long before she was born. And now, just like my newborn boys, this child who we had then only just met has become someone we can't imagine life or our family without.

Happy Gotcha Lainey Ru!  :)  You are amazing and we adore you baby girl!

Shortly after coming home

1st Gotcha Day

2nd Gotcha Day

3rd Gotcha Day

(She sees a lot of her brothers practicing baseball right now, lol Batter up baby girl!)

Friday, April 28, 2017

Homeschooling + Adoption

In this season we're in, I'm finding that homeschooling is both blessing and a challenge as we work through the adoption process this time around. It gives me something concrete to focus on and it helps make the adoption wait go by a bit faster.

The difficult side is that my brain tends to get hyper-focused on one or the other and I need to remember to be on top of both. And also remember all that regular life stuff like packing school lunches, laundry, sports, making meals, etc. But I know every little thing is good, and the world won't fall apart if they eat another frozen pizza. Thankfully, last month we completed the bulk of our paperwork, sending our dossier on it's merry way to China. We were officially logged into China's system on March 27th. Woohoo!!

Overall, one of my major goals during this adoption process is to try to stay focused as much as possible on the kids I have right in front of me while we wait. It's hard... really hard to have a kid on the other side of the world that you can't get to. This kid EXISTS. Just because I haven't seen a picture, or the details of her, she is out there. I don't want to forget that. But I also don't want to miss that this is also a precious time with my current three - doing school, enjoying time together, and actually a bit of "calm". Before we know it we'll be making our plans to travel and helping our newest little one adjust. Like bringing home a newborn, there's a lot of slowing down and grace that will be required when we bring home a child whose entire life (language, comforts, culture, food, smells, bed, caregivers, time zone) has been flipped upside down and turned inside out.

We know that our lives look different than most (because of home schooling, or adopting), but we've seen the beauty in saying yes, jumping in, and doing the hard things that matter in this life. God doesn't call us to places just to disappoint us in the end or abandon us. His plans are good and perfect, and He is faithful!

One of Canaan's current passions is learning Photoshop. He's getting quite good actually!
Thankfully momma's got the skills & software for this one! 

A little salt dough mapping

Daddy came home early so he was able to jump into our "tea time" (aka, hot chocolate, cookeis, + books)

Spring is flying by!

I mean seriously. He face! I love this boy.

Ni Hao (Hello!)

Uke tuning

Pink from head to toe!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Adopting Again!

We are so excited to share that we are on our way to our 4th child! We have started another adoption process with Holt International, our wonderful agency who brought us to Lainey.

I took this picture a month ago - thankfully now almost all of those little boxes are checked!

We applied on November 1st, and so are so excited to finally share this news in a more public way.

In a way, this adoption is and has been a bigger leap of faith for us than last time (mostly because... FOUR kids, lol, but also because we are expecting more significant special/medical needs than Lainey's). But in other ways, it's also less of a leap of faith than last time... because we know what a blessing Lainey is. We know the deep love we have for her, and the thought that we could have missed her by saying no... I can hardly think about it without tearing up. We have confidence in knowing that our forth child, though stretching us all, will be an immeasurable blessing. And we hope of course that we might be a blessing to her as well.

We have already completed our homestudy process, and now we are working to complete our dossier - the big stack of paperwork that gets sent to Ch*na. Primarily we are waiting for our US Immigration approval, which can take a couple months to get back. After our dossier gets sent we'll start waiting for a phone call from our agency with a child referral. In the meantime, we're also closely watching our agency's list of waiting children (the waiting children are kiddos that need more advocacy because of the level of their special needs).

Please be praying:

  • For our little one who waits - for her heart and her health
  • For our child's caregivers (orphanage nannies or foster parents)
  • For our process to move forward smoothly, and for patience on our part. As we experienced before, the waiting periods can be tough.
We can't wait to share with you our journey as time goes on. If you'd like to look back on our adoption journey for Lainey, you can find that blog at

I have been asked by a couple of people about donating, so I thought I might share that we have an fundraising account with AdoptTogether (all donations are tax deductible). Click the button below to go to our profile or use this link. :)

Friday, December 9, 2016

The Birthday Boys

Somehow this month our boys turned five and seven. I'm not quite sure how that happened, but these boys are just awesome. (And our tribe of family and friends - who have been there to celebrate so many of their birthdays - are pretty awesome too (we love you guys!).)

Canaan, Age 7
Loves his friends, playing legos, basketball, riding his bike, foot races, playing board games, and optical illusions.

Ezra, Age 5
Loves blankets (mounds of them), playing with Canaan and Lainey, making secret (or not-so-secret) hideouts behind the chair in the master bedroom, being silly, hugging his momma (swoon), and FOOD. The boy loves food, and and he'll be the first to tell you that his favorite foods are tomatoes and broccoli. Strange, but true. :)

Art Museum

A few weeks ago, my friend Jess recommended we visit the new Van Gogh exhibit at the Cincinnati Museum of Art, and so last week we headed there with the kids. This was the their first experience at an art museum, so there were plenty of quick, "oh my goodness don't touch it!"s and other quite important bits of education on how to be in an museum filled with priceless works of art. I am always impressed at the collection we have right here in our own back yard, and I just swoon over the impressionists. :)

We've been studying some art masters this year - Van Gogh and Claude Monet in particular, and we're working on paying attention to detail and learning to appreciate the incredible talent (and the amount of work) that went into each piece.

Lainey, my little artist, spend most her time drawing. Drawing here, drawing there, drawing everywhere. 

We visited the kids creative area next, which included a immersive room-sized version of the van Gogh painting that they had just seen in the exhibit. It. was. amazing. The kids were able to add to the scene my creating flowers and velcroing them to the wall. This was by far their favorite part of the museum and we will definitely be back soon!