Sunday, January 29, 2012

Kinda creepy....

We learned something a little bit creepy the other day about our new house.

No, no one was murdered in it!  But if that's what you were thinking, you're not too far off.

A little background info:  we are buying a house that is 5 years old.  It's in a very small neighborhood (I think there are a total of 14 houses) with one street and a cul-de-sac at the end.  The builder that built the house we are buying still lives in our neighborhood.  Our house has a full security system on it, to include a camera that hooks up to a computer to show us who is at the front door.  After speaking with several of the neighbors, we have learned that the previous owner of the house we're about to buy was a bit....paranoid.  He and his family kept to themselves and were rarely seen except when going back and forth to work.  In addition, he owns his own mason business (I think that's what it was) and did some of the work in several of the houses in the neighborhood, so he knew all of the builders and the developer.

We didn't think much of any of it, but then we learned something a few days ago from our real estate agent.    It turns out that there may have been a reason why the previous homeowner was a bit paranoid.....

Several years ago (not sure exactly when this all took place), when the development was still new, the original developer and one of the builders had some sort of falling out.  It got to the point where the developer told the builder to stay off of his property and never go on it again.  The developer happened to live in the house directly across the street from the house we are building.

Apparently one day, the builder showed up at the developer's house when the developer was not home.  The developer's son, however, was home that day, and he called his dad when he saw the builder on the property.  The developer instructed his son that he was on his way home and then he called the police to tell them he was on his way to his property to shoot the builder!

Unfortunately, the developer beat the police to his property, and when he arrived, he shot the builder right in-between the eyes.....and killed him!

Right there.....across the street from our new house.


Now I get to think about that every time I look out my front window........oh boy.

Currently, we don't know who is living in the developer's old house.  The developer was tried and convicted of murder and is currently in jail.  We don't know what happened to the builder's family.  All we know is that the guy that previously owned our house and knew them both, had a security camera installed on the front door.

Kinda creepy.........

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Plan

I decided to write out the plan for the next few days because I know that I'm about to be waaaaaaay too busy to blog!  So, if you've been following along with the story of our big move, then here's what's going to happen next!

We have several meetings tomorrow out at the house with various people to discuss closings, inspections, final walk-throughs, finishing our basement and plans for the pool.  On Saturday afternoon, I take Zack to the airport so that he can fly back to Kansas.  He will be there through Monday while the movers load the truck, and then he will drive the one car that we left in Kansas back here on Tuesday.  I get to try and entertain the Gang in the hotel until he returns.....thinking about checking out a cool children's museum on Sunday.

Wednesday is the big day......we finally get to close on our house!  And although we won't be able to stay there at night until we get our furniture, just having the room to roam during the day will be a big relief.  We close at noon and then it gets crazy!  We have the carpet guy coming to tear out the old carpet at 2pm.  We also have a locksmith coming to change the locks.  We are hoping to get AT&T in there that day to set up our internet so that we can do school there during the day immediately.  In addition, we have the contractor starting on finishing our basement that same day!!

On Thursday, the new carpet will be installed and then we have someone coming to give the house a deep-clean before the moving truck arrives with all our stuff!  I am hoping to be able to spend the day at the house, doing homeschool & then planning out where I want all my furniture, but some of that will depend on whether or not we have internet.

We are expecting the movers to arrive and begin to unload on Friday, but that's still up in the air at this may not be until Saturday.  As long as we have a place to spread out and spend the day, I really don't mind sleeping in the hotel for a few more nights (we have 6 full weeks of free temporary housing!).

From there, it will be boxes, boxes and more boxes!  If you've ever moved out-of-state,  I'm sure you can understand!  If not, I'll be sure to post pictures ;D  I'm looking forward to rearranging some of my furniture, and we did have to buy a few new pieces to help us fit in the new house, so I have new furniture to look forward to!  The tough part will be disciplining myself to get school done for the day so that I can attack the unpacking and decorating!!  

Stay tuned......

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

First impressions

We've just begun Week 2 of our hotel adventure......I'm choosing to call it an adventure to make it seem more appealing ;D

We are beginning to fall into a kind of routine now.  I get up and grab a shower at 6, and try to wake the kids around 7.  We have breakfast (hot chocolate from the front desk is a Gang favorite!), get dressed, comb hair and brush teeth.  We are usually ready to start school around 8:30.....

Since Sophie is still not in school, she has been helping me out by teaching Matthew his math lesson!  And speaking of Sophie, thanks so much for all of your wonderful suggestions about a school program for her!  We've decided to go with George Washington University Online High School for the rest of this semester, and she is in the process of applying for acceptance into the program.  It's a private, online college prep school, and there is an extensive admissions process (student essays and teachers' letters of referral)....we're getting all of our paperwork together now.  Their semester starts next week, so she won't be behind at all.  We plan to keep our options open for next year, with a possibility of sticking with this new online school, switching to a private school or maybe even starting college early!

Emily is able to finish up her senior year online with our high school in Kansas, so she works for several hours each day as well.  We were so blessed to have this option available and are excited to return to Kansas in May to see her graduate with her class!  She's actually heading back to KS in a couple of weeks to take charge of the lighting for the high school's musical production....and she's counting the hours ;D

Josh and Noah are enrolled in Alpha Omega Academy online and are doing well.  We work until lunch and then sometimes have an hour or so more to finish up after lunch.  I try to get laundry done during the morning's costing us about $10 per day to get our clothes cleaned....ouch!

Today Josh is working on a science experiment that he has to complete outside.  It's nice to get out from behind the computer sometimes!

Here's Caleb at lunch :D  I'm so happy we bought a highchair for the hotel, but it's a cheapy and it reclines a bit too much....he just falls asleep in it!

After school, we usually try to do something fun, although the weather hasn't been very cooperative lately- lots of rain.  Today, however, we have beautiful blue skies and warm temps, so we're spending the afternoon outdoors!

The ladies at the front desk gave us some chalk in our welcome basket (!), and they told us to go decorate their front entrance!  Gotta love Marriott ;D

I have to say that my first impressions of the weather are good.  I love the fact that we can usually go outside without a coat in the middle of January, and the temps are mild enough for the kids to be able to play outside most days.  But when we can't get outside due to weather, there is SO much to do here for kids and families!  I can't even begin to count the number of indoor play/adventure parks there are here, including inflatables.  Makes me wonder if it's due to the summer heat?!

Today we found some fun little lizards to entertain us!

And I've been able to open the window to our hotel room and let some fresh air in....hmmmm, makes me wonder, if this is winter in Atlanta, what is spring like?!

And although I know it's likely to be hotter than hades this summer, I am certainly enjoying the weather right now!

We close on our house next Wednesday, and it won't be a minute too soon! But I have to say that I am really loving Atlanta, despite the living-in-a-hotel situation :D  The shopping is not to be believed and it is so beautiful here!  I'm so excited to head down to the coast and explore Savannah (4hr drive) and maybe even Charleston, SC, which is about 5hrs from here.  I am really happy we get to live in the deeeeeeeep south, and I look forward to checking it all out once we're settled!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Sophie's Grace

Update to post below:

Just picked Sophie up from school, and there is no doubt that this school simply isn't for her.  We knew we were in a top-notch school district in KS, but we had no idea just how great it was.  The honors curriculum here is FAR too easy for Sophie.  She actually took a chemistry quiz today and had the top score in the class after no preparation at all!  Sophie loves a good challenge, and I simply can't sit by and let her lose everything she's worked so hard way!  Besides, I left it completely up to her and only told her that she had other options if she didn't want to go this route, and she was absolutely certain after her second day of classes that this is NOT for her.  So, we're now in a desperate race to search for  online AP courses, and I need all the help I can get!!!  I love the comments I've received so far and would appreciate any help you might have in homeschool AP courses- I don't even know where to start!  I don't think a Christian homeschool curriculum is going to have the tough courses that we need, so I need some other options!  Ideas?!

Original post:

My heart is just breaking for my sweet third-born today.  We knew that transitioning in the middle of the year wouldn't be easy for Sophie, but we could not have imagined the scenario that is now playing out.

Because Monday was a holiday, we weren't able to do begin the registration process for Sophie until Tuesday.  In the state of Georgia, students are required to have a health and dental screening at the Dept of Health prior to even making an appointment to see a guidance counselor and begin the school registration paperwork.  So bright and early Tuesday morning, Sophie & I hit the GA DOH.

I was careful to ensure that I had ALL of the needed forms to get Sophie through the health dept's process. So I was appalled to learn that Sophie needed a shot that she had already received as an infant.   Sophie had been given her 3rd Hep B vaccination at 5 mos and 26 days old, and that is not acceptable to the state of Georgia, despite the fact that she has been registered in countless schools over the last 12 years with those SAME shot records and has had no issues at all.  The state of GA says she had to receive that shot at exactly 6 mos of age or it's invalid.  Not a huge problem, but rather annoying to say the least!

After leaving the health dept, I immediately called the new high school to schedule an appointment to get Sophie enrolled.  Of course (yes, that's meant to be snarky) they couldn't see us that day, so we had to set up an appt for Wednesday morning instead....another wasted day.  On Wednesday morning we headed over to the school in hopes that we could get Sophie enrolled and still have time to get her books and locker, etc, so that she wouldn't have to worry about the little things on her first day of classes.

That's when our real problems began.

I can't speak for the entire state, but this school district does things MUCH differently than we're used to.


After speaking initially with the counselor, we were shocked to find that this school is set up on some sort of strange semester system that doesn't follow anything I've ever heard of.  Now, I may not be an expert on school curriculum, but I have lived in MANY states over the years and have never seen anything like this.

The school is on a block schedule,  but each day is exactly the same schedule.  Now, that's more like the "traditional" high school that I attended, but this gets weird from there.  There are only 4 periods in a day, and each period (or class) is 90 minutes long.  Still not too bad, except then there's this......the students take the same 4 classes every day for the semester and then they don't take them again the following semester.  To clarify, that means that they would take their core subjects (math, english, history, and science) for only half of the year!  And, if they take a language (like Spanish), it's the same thing.  Now, that may be ok for elective courses that are designed to only be a semester, but I really have a problem with them not being exposed to the core classes for 7 months out of the year!!!  And when they're taking upper level language courses (like Spanish) it's even worse!  There's simply NO WAY to retain everything that you've learned for that long of a time-span without having to repeat lots of things the following year.  That tells me that the time it takes to review then cuts into the time for learning new things even more....and then they only have about 3 months of new learning as opposed to the 7 months (or so) they would have if they were in their core courses all year!!!

I wish I could say that was the worst of it, but it actually does get worse.  As you may know if you've been reading my blog for several years, Sophie is not only a straight "A" student, but she maintains at least a 98% average in ALL of her courses, each of them being honors or AP.  Sophie is incredibly gifted and works very hard to keep her GPA high.  Although she was placed in all honors courses in this new school, they are very different from the core classes she was taking in KS.  It will get too complicated to try and explain the differences, but suffice it to say that it's going to be an issue for her this year due to lots of repetition of things she's already covered as well as missing things.  On top of that, two of her four teachers have subs because they are out on maternity leave, and there is just no substitution of an actual teacher when it comes to honors level my humble opinion!

In addition, the math here is some sort of "new math," and we have yet to understand what they have done.  There is no Algebra 1 or 2 and no geometry.  Instead they have lumped everything together in some sort of group and they call it Math 1 (freshman year), Math 2 (sophomore year), etc.  They do offer honors for each level, but it's just not the same!  Sophie has been place in honors math 2, but we have to wonder if she shouldn't be more advanced, and it's frustrating to make the switch.  And because they require her to take the 3 weird math levels, she will have to double up on math courses in her senior year if she wants to take any of the advanced math she has been planning to take all along.

I suppose if Sophie were an average student this wouldn't be so frustrating for me, but because I know how incredibly important grades and knowledge are to Sophie (who is leaning toward a degree in medicine) and how hard she works, this just STINKS!!!

And if the courses weren't enough of an issue, there's the sheer fact that Sophie is starting school in the middle of the year, in a brand new place.  I was sick to my stomach as I left her yesterday in the guidance office, and then was very unhappy to hear that she hadn't been given a locker and was carrying 3 large books around all day.  And, because she hadn't been issued a locker, they didn't even give her all of her books because she couldn't carry them all around- how does that make sense?!

So, as you can see, it's been a struggle, and I have to say that through it all Sophie has shown her true GRACE and has made me more proud of her than ever as she has not once complained about her situation.  I guess God knew what she was going to need to get her through life, and the fact that her middle name happens to be "Grace" is no mistake :D

I don't mean to "knock" the school!  I'm sure their program is great if you've been here from the beginning, and it is supposed to be the top high school in the area.  And I'm certainly not blaming them for the fact that we moved here in the middle of the year!  It's not their fault that we are having to change curriculum, etc.  In fact, we did get to meet a couple of wonderful teachers and coaches yesterday who went out of their way to welcome us and make us feel it's not all bad.

Honestly, I'm sure Sophie will be fine in the end- we're all just in a very emotional state right now, and it's hard knowing what we left behind!  I think I'm feeling a bit cheated right now, and I would venture to guess Sophie is feeling about the same.  I did actually offer her the option to homeschool or attend a private christian school yesterday, and that may be where we end up if things don't work out, but she is willing to give it a few days and wants to make it work.  I am very sad that she has had to drop her Spanish course to make her new schedule work (only having 4 classes is VERY limiting), and I am hoping she will be able to pick it up over the summer or something to keep it up!  It's the one thing that she's done consistently since the 6th grade and was a part of the honors curriculum, and she had hoped to become very fluent in the language!

I think the hardest thing for her to give up was playing basketball, and she was really excited to be able to start conditioning for lacrosse tryouts (which are coming up next week) yesterday!  Being part of a team will help her to make friends quickly and fit in a bit more, and I'm just praying the rest will work itself out.

Well, I've typed all this in our hotel room with 5 crazy boys tugging on my sleeve the entire time, so I need to get back to them and get OUT of this room ;D  We can't wait to close on our house on the 1st and are anxiously counting the days!!!!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Come on in!

Well, we made it!  We're here in Atlanta, safe and sound.  We've already discovered the unbelievable shopping the area has to offer....not that we've had much time for shopping ;D  We rolled in late Saturday afternoon and headed straight to our new house to meet the pool guy.  After dinner and baths we hit the hay, knowing that Sunday would be a busy day for the Gang as we had our home inspection plus meetings at the new house with 2 different builders.  Needless to say, we ended up spending the majority of the day Sunday at the house, and then about 30 minutes at the car wash cleaning all 3 cars after our long trip down here ;D

Today was our first day of homeschool, and we were happy to finally have some routine back in our day!  Although, I'm not gonna lie, 8 kids in 2 hotel rooms for hours and hours on end isn't the easiest way to spend the day, but we managed.  I got up early and got showered and ready for the day so I could take charge of the chaos, and then I woke all the kids up and we had breakfast.....

As you can see, Jacob had a bagel with Nutella :D  They do have a nice breakfast here at the hotel, but because it's an "extended stay" hotel, they don't have tables or an eating area in the get to take it to your room.  Knowing that I would need to have a place for Caleb to eat, we hit Target on Sunday and bought a cheap highchair to get us through the next couple of weeks!

Although we are a bit short on space, we fit in the two suites pretty well, and have all the comforts of home....

Well, maybe not all the comforts, but we did bring toys!  Here's the Gang at breakfast this morning....

But I know what you're all dying to see is the inside of our new house, so let's get on with it!!  I snapped a few pics yesterday during our inspection.  Here's the front entryway....I love the double front door!

The office is to the left of the door and the formal dining room is to the right....

Next we have the main living area, and this is where we plan to put our t.v. in this house (over the fireplace)....

And although I would like to have vaulted ceilings in this area, we have a bonus room over this space instead, so I was really excited to see what they did to the ceiling in this room to make up for not having the vaulted space!!

But while I LOVE the ceiling, I'm not too crazy about the way they finished the fireplace, and we are already talking with our contractor about changing it to stone instead of the marble that's there now.  And that white paint on the bookshelves has got to go :D

Here's the kitchen.  I was really excited to see they had already put under-cabinet lighting all around the hubby doesn't have to do it!  I love the granite that they used- it's that nice brown and cream that doesn't show all your food crumbs like the black that I had in our KS house did.

The only thing we plan to do to the kitchen is add a trash drawer.  This next picture is Allie and Emily checking out the faucet- the area behind them is the kitchen eating space, and the area to the right of Allie is the hearth room.

Here's a better shot of the hearth area and you can see how it flows into the kitchen.  It has a great vaulted ceiling and a stone fireplace!

Here's the butler's pantry heading into the formal dining room....

The doorway to the right is where you go down to the basement- that's where we will put Allie and Emily's rooms and a theater room.  This next picture is back to the hearth room- a ceiling shot- I got a little out of order here :D

Here's a picture from the front entryway looking upstairs....

There are four bedrooms upstairs plus a bonus room.  This is the bedroom that Caleb & Jacob will share....

The above picture got "stuck" to the picture right above it (during upload somehow) and I can't separate it....ugh!  Anyway, it's a shot of the upstairs hallway, and so is this next picture.....

Noah & Matthew will share a room, and Josh will have his own room this time!  Sophie has a bedroom on the main floor off the living room (it's actually a 5-bedroom house, but will be a 7-bedroom by the time we finish off 2 bedrooms in the basement).  We're excited to be able to give the four oldest kids their own rooms this time, despite the fact that we're in a smaller house!

This next shot is of the master bath- not much too see ;D

It's about the same size as our bathroom in KS, but what's really impressive is the closet off the bathroom.....

It is incredibly HUGE!!!  Tons of space!  It's the length of our garage and has a window at the end....

And then it wraps back around the other side with even MORE hanging and shelf space!!!

Here's a shot from the window back into the bathroom!  See Emily waaaaaaaay down there?!

And finally, a shot of the bonus room that steps up from the 3rd floor- this will be our school/playroom!

It has great windows that overlook the woods and will soon overlook our new pool!!

Well, that's the grand tour for now!  Time for bed....tomorrow I have to take Sophie to the health department and then over to her new school to get her registered- we hope to start her in school on Wednesday or Thursday this week!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The BIG move

Moving day is almost here.  Well, I guess today actually marks the start of our big move!  The packers are here, the house is covered in boxes, the boys are out of control and I'm exhausted ;D  Yep, that sounds like a moving day to me!

I know my mom is dying to know what the heck we're going to be up to for the next few weeks, so this post will be just for her ;D

The plan is to have the moving company pack us for the next couple of days, and we hope to hit the road by early afternoon on Friday.  We have the packers here this week, but we are going to leave our furniture, etc, in this house until the end of January when my husband will fly back to have everything loaded onto the truck.  We close on our house in Kansas on the 31st of January, and we close on the house in Georgia on the 1st of February.  We are being provided with temporary housing (aka a hotel) for up to 6 weeks, so we're in no hurry to have our items delivered on the other end.  In fact, we are going to re-carpet the new house before we take delivery of our household goods, and then we were thinking it might be nice to have a few extra days in the hotel while we unpack some of our opposed to living amongst boxes!

As I said before, we are leaving Kansas on Friday, and we plan to take 2 days to travel down to Georgia.  We're going to take 3 of our 4 vehicles (one will be left here for my husband to drive back to GA at the end of the month), so we'll have quite the caravan of cars!  And since the girls have never driven on such a long trip, we want to take it a little easier than we normally would!  That means we'll stop about half way between here and Atlanta on Friday, finishing up our trip on Saturday....early enough to meet with a contractor at our new house to talk about finishing our new basement :D

Then, on Sunday, we have more meetings with contractors, pool companies and carpet guys!  I think we have an inspection that day as well.....yeah, that sounds right!  At this point, I've sort of lost track ;D  My job is to keep the kids fed, clothed and alive while my husband is focusing on the "business" side of things.  He just told me today that we really make a great team!

Monday will be the first day of work for Zack, and I think we're BOTH ready for him to go back!  3 months of no "normal" schedule is beginning to take a toll on all of us, and we're ready for some focus back in our lives.  I plan to start the boys' homeschool program that day as well, although it is sure to be a challenge in a hotel environment.  We are fortunate to have two 2-bedroom suites, each with it's own living area, and a total of 4 bathrooms.  That should give us the space we need to spread out and "escape" if needed ;D

We are hoping to start Sophie in school on Wednesday.  Monday is a holiday, and I have to take her to the health department on Tuesday before I can register her in public school.  Georgia law requires a hearing and vision screening plus transfer of shot records before kids can even start the enrollment process.  That will be fun :/

The hotel will be about 7 miles from our new house (which, incidentally, is right next to Sophie's new high school), so I will have to drive Sophie to school everyday until we move into the new house.  That will be a good thing to get us up and on a schedule every morning, and once we close on the house, we can hang out there if we want while Sophie's at school!

So, that's the plan for now..... at least, that's all I can remember for now ;D

We have been blessed with incredibly warm weather the last few days (great for kids to play outside), but as I look out the window I can see a nasty storm blowing in.  We are currently under a winter-weather advisory, and it looks as though we will get some snow tonight, which may make for a loooooooong day tomorrow!  I see an indoor playplace in our future.......advil please!

I'll try to update my blog as I can!  Once we leave Kansas, I know that things are going to get very, VERY busy, but I'll do my best :D

Monday, January 9, 2012

State of Affairs

My formal dining room isn't so "formal" anymore

We sold our dining set (we are looking for something that seats at least 10!) and the room has become the "holding area" for the things we don't want the packers to pack!

The rest of the house is beginning to look different as well

Curtains are down, anything that has been screwed into a wall or ceiling has been removed- including our tv's....

Holes have been spackled in preparation for paint touch-ups...

Beds have been stripped and all bedding washed....

And our front porch has never looked so bare :(

We spent the day tying up loose ends, and we were beyond thankful for the girls' help with entertaining the boys so we could get our work done!

The weather has been so great this past week!  Not necessarily "January" weather, but great nonetheless! Perfect for the boys nerf gun wars :D

Or even some lasso practice!

Allie enjoyed some Mt. Dew as she watched the boys!  And anyone who knows Allie knows it's her MOST favorite drink :D

Despite the fact that today was my birthday, there was work, work, work to be done.  We spent the majority of the morning continuing to pack and organize.  I've done this so many times before and learned my lessons the hard way, and I understand that the work I'm doing now will make for a much smoother transition.  Remembering to do things like carefully and painstakingly wrapping each one of my necklaces in tissue and placing them all in ziploc bags to keep them from getting tangled takes time and energy!  And remembering to collect things that I will need (and that can't be bought in a store) for the month that our household items will be in boxes can be quite a chore!

We continue to keep in touch with people in Atlanta as we arrange for finishing the basement of our new house, set up inspections, have our utilities set up, etc.  I was able to call the school that Sophie will be attending and get her registration started.  I tried to get the boys school going, but got bogged down with other "stuff" and finally decided to wait until next Monday to start school instead!  It just makes a lot more sense :D

We had to be out of the house for the buyer's inspection (which, by the way, went extremely well w/ very limited repairs!) for most of the afternoon, and that gave us a chance to get some errands done (like forwarding our mail).

Tonight we hit our favorite restaurant for the final time :(  It's not a chain, so we won't be able to find another one when we move, and we are sad!  But it was a great way to celebrate my birthday, and we ate many, many cannolis!

Tomorrow will be our final day to pack and finish up laundry.  If you've ever moved with professional packers and movers, then you know that they invade come in your house, ready or not, and go to town!    There are usually 5 or 6 packers, and they hit the door, spread out and start wrapping before you have time to blink ;D  That means that you better have anything you plan to keep with you out of their reach and set aside in a roped off separate area!  And if you didn't get it......tough.  Yep, once the packers hit, you're done!  For me, that means staying incredibly organized and on top of things before that moving truck ever turns down my street ;D

So that makes tomorrow the BIG day.   On my list of things to do:

*clean out pantry
*clean out fridge
*finish laundry
*pack boys' clothes and my clothes
*move things to dining room
*make phone calls
*check, double-check, and triple-check to make sure I have everything!!!

Doesn't look like much, but I'm sure it will take the entire day & I will fall into bed exhausted!

And speaking of bed.....mine is calling ;D

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Decision made....

Wow!  Things are moving so quickly now.....we drive to Atlanta in just FIVE days!  Among the things that we are trying to wrap up before we leave is a decision as to which curriculum we will use for homeschool, and I am happy to report that our decision has finally been made.  We are going with Alpha Omega Academy (online) for all 3 boys!

I was debating between AOA and Switched On Schoolhouse for some time, and was delighted to find that AOA actually uses SOS as one of their chosen programs!  So there actually was no choice ;D  The benefit to having the boys in the academy is that they have real teachers (one per subject) who will help them along the way with questions, grade their work, and keep track of all of their grades!  That's definitely the way to go for us given all the chaos we will continue to have over the next couple of months.  And just in case it's not what we hoped it would be, I only signed them up for one semester, so that we can re-evaluate where we are for next year.

While Josh & Noah are both doing SOS curriculum online, Matthew is actually going to be using Horizons.  The SOS curriculum doesn't start until 3rd grade, so we'll be using a much more traditional route for Matthew for the next couple of years until he's capable of using the computer.  I had 2 choices for Matthew, Horizons or Lifepac, and I knew I wanted to try Horizons as the Lifepacs are what I used last year for Noah, and I really didn't like them.  So that made that choice easy too!  I also went to Barnes & Noble and picked up a copy of Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.  I've heard such good things about it that I'm really excited to give it a try!  I'm even thinking I might get Jacob started in a couple of months when things settle down.

We went ahead and bought two new laptops (one for each older boy) to be used for their schoolwork.  After taking online placement tests to determine exactly where to begin with them, we were able to get our curriculum shipped out in just 2 days, and it arrived yesterday!  Allie is helping me by loading all the software onto each computer, and we expect to be starting school on Monday!  Not too bad, given the circumstances ;D

I'm sure I'm leaving out information, and I know that some people are following me to see what I am doing to start up homeschool, so please feel free to ask questions!  As I said, things are moving so quickly that I just can't get it all on my blog!  I'm making so many decisions these days and having to cover so many's insane!  And I always forget that anyone who is reading my blog doesn't have all the background details of my daily life ;D

I'm planning to put up a post with all the details about the move tomorrow night......I did say PLANNING ;D

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Hello...and goodbye

I was incredibly blessed on Monday to finally meet the NICEST most FABULOUS woman in the world!  After years of connecting through social networks only, we were able to meet in person at my home for the first time ever in real life!!!!

Tonya is her name, and she is a doll!  I love her honesty and her sincerity, but I am most blessed by her love of the Lord and her willingness to share her faith and her heart with people that she's never even met in real life (like me!).  She has been quick to pray for me and each member of my family over the years after receiving one of my tweets, status updates or blog posts.   I am so honored by her support....she has been a light to my path on more than one occasion!

And not only is she great, but (no surprise!) she also has a wonderful family!

It was so fun to meet the people I've been reading about for so long, and they were just as I had imagined ;D

You may be wondering what brought us together after all this time, and it's kind of a funny story.  If you've been reading my blog for a while, then you have probably heard about our beloved old red wagon!  We got the wagon back in October, and after lots of paint and a few new nails, we've been able to enjoy it on several occasions.  When we initially bought it, we were determined to take it with us when and if we ever moved, but now that we know we're moving, we realize it's just not possible to take it with us.  It's great to pull behind a vehicle going about 20mph, but I don't think it would survive the 14hr trip to Georgia :D

A few days before Christmas, we took the Gang out for an evening ride in our wagon, enjoying the Christmas lights and singing Christmas carols while we drove.  I posted about how it would be our last time using the wagon, but I didn't mention that we had actually put it on Craigslist to try to find a new home for it.  A few days after my blog post, I received a message on Facebook from Tonya asking if I would consider selling the wagon to her family.....

I was ecstatic!!!  I couldn't believe someone I knew would actually want our old red wagon, and for it to be Tonya just made it even better!!!  I messaged her that I would love for them to have it if they could figure out a way to get it back to their home.  I knew she lived far enough away that the wagon would not make the trip on it's own and would need to be transported by a trailer.  When she told me they had access to a trailer and would love to make the trip to pick it up, I just knew it was meant to be!  And not only that, but it meant we would get the chance to meet :D

It was a date!  And on Monday, we met and spent a couple of hours hanging out and enjoying each other's families.  What a blessing!  Our husbands were able to roll that big old red wagon up onto the trailer and this is the last memory I will have of our beloved wagon.....

As hard as it is to see it go, I couldn't be MORE thrilled to know where it will land!  There is no doubt in my mind that Tonya and her family will enjoy it as much as the Gang did, and I look forward to seeing her post about their adventures on her blog ;D  And I will never forget that it was that same old wagon that gave me the opportunity to meet such an amazing woman!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Our next home!

As most of you know, we spent 4 days in Georgia looking for a new house to buy while waiting for a final offer from the company that just hired my husband.  It was a great trip, and we were able to find a house that I think is going to be perfect for our family.  We love the area (north of Atlanta) and were really excited when our real estate agent took us up on "the mountain" the very first day to give us a view of the area!  Who knew Atlanta had mountains ya'll?!?!  Here's the Gang checking out our new home.....

The kids loved the mountain, and we look forward to spending some time exploring it more!

We spent 3 full days touring homes for sale, hitting an average of about 10 per day!  It was rather exhausting, but it paid off.  We saw some very interesting things while shopping for our new home, but probably the MOST interesting was this cool skull the boys found in the woods behind one of the houses....

We're fairly certain it's a deer skull, but if anyone knows what it is for sure, please let me know!

The kids were troopers, and they hung in there all 3 days.  We decided to extend our stay by one more day after the 3rd day.  We were feeling a sense of urgency to get something nailed down before we left so that we could get Sophie registered for school as soon as possible.  The last full day we were there was New Year's Eve, and our agent was kind enough to show us just a few more houses to help us make our final decision!  We were able to leave both Matthew & Noah back at the hotel that day with Allie, and splitting up the group for a short period of time was good for us all ;D

By the end of that final day, we knew what we wanted to do, and we decided to make an offer on a house.  After going through negotiations for a couple of days, we finally got the call today that our offer had been accepted and we now have a place to call home!  While I didn't get a chance to get pictures of the inside of the house, I was able to snap some of the outside, and I wanted to post them so you all can see our new home!

This first picture is of the backyard and the woods behind the house.....

While it's not the farm that Emily was hoping we might be able to buy (!), it is a really nice lot for a neighborhood and will give the kids lots of room to roam and explore!  In fact, the lot is so spacious, and we got such a great deal on the house, that we decided to put in our very own pool!!!!

The house sits up on a hill, and this is a picture of the front....

It's not as big as the house we live in fact, it's about half the size....but we plan to finish the daylight basement by adding 2 bedrooms, a bathroom and a t.v. area.  That will make it comfortable for our family without breaking the bank!  Our goal in buying this next house was to shop below our means instead of at our means!  We're not only going to greatly reduce our mortgage, but we're also paying off all our remaining debt beyond our mortgage!  So, while we may be a little bit more squeezed in our living space, in the long run, we believe this is a time to make certain sacrifices and begin to live more frugally.

The house is about 5 years old and is in really great shape.  The landscaping is fabulous and the interior has some great features.  We plan to re-carpet as we love the sculpted, stain-resistant carpeting we put in our current house, but that's about all we need to do before move in!  I'm sure we will be painting rooms, but hubby is so handy when it comes to painting ;D

This last shot is of the garage side of the house.  We were thrilled to find a house with a driveway that has an extended pad and will allow us to park all 4 of our vehicles without too much headache and shuffling!

We plan to put in a shed to house yard equipment, and that will free up some garage space.  A swingset, pool, trampoline and basketball hoop will complete our exterior additions!  We are thankful to have the space to be able to have them all.  Since we are a very "outdoorsy" family, it will be nice to have such a wonderful yard :D

Well, that's it for the tour!  We are still planning to head back down to Atlanta to begin our lives there at the end of next week, so I'll be able to get some pictures of the inside of the house then.  I can't remember if I posted that our house here in Kansas finally sold yesterday!  I'm on such a roller coaster right now, and I can't remember which things I tweeted, facebooked or blogged ;D

We are so thankful for all your thoughts and prayers throughout this process!  While we were never worried because we knew God had an amazing plan if we could just stick with Him, the last few months have been stressful and trying to say the least!  But now that the BIG questions have finally been answered, I'm beginning to feel a sense of excitement about the next phase of our lives.  And we were very excited to learn that Georgia has free in-state tuition for residents that have been in the state for at least a year and carry a 3.5 GPA!  FREE state schools for the Gang.......woo hoo!!!!


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