Jammin’ July

We celebrated Houston’s 7th birthday at the sprayground this year. Cool fun on a hot day + free facility + tons of families from church, CC, and beyond = one splash-tacular event! I just can’t believe my firstborn is so doggone old. Where, oh where, do the years go?

Asher, Houston & Jax quite gleefully attack a kid with the fish blaster. Don’t worry … he got ’em back good. Such is life @ the spray ground!

For Independence Day, Daddy treated the family to a Grasshoppers game. I must say, this was the most enjoyable baseball game to date. Not only were our seats great and the weather perfect, but the home team won and the kids lasted the entire game without complaint.

Moreover, the combo of their maturity and interest in the sport kept them pretty riveted through every inning and until the bitter end. I think Stephen, who’s a big baseball fan, really appreciated this evolution in his boys. So, Daddy got a nice treat, too!

The kids and I attended a three-day CC practicum earlier this month. This was our third time participating in the annual summer conference aimed at equipping home educators and providing their students interesting and fun academic camps.

Zeke recently got so angry at his bunkmates for keeping him up that he just plopped down in the hallway & fell asleep. Seriously. Houston, as most big bros are apt to do, took great pleasure in mocking his little bro.

Past years’ themes have been Latin and Math, but this summer’s practicum topic was something extremely near and dear to my heart. The conference tagline said it all: “Rhetoric has founded nations, has excited revolutions, and negotiated peace. It has ushered in great awakenings and lulled babies to sleep.”

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” — Colossians 4:6

Not only did I love the focus of rhetoric’s importance and power, but I got in lots of bonding with Miss Christie, which is sometimes a real challenge with six kids hangin’ around. I also got to get better acquainted with my pal, Holly, a newbie homeschool mom who goes to Mercy Hill, but will be attending a different CC community this fall.

A happy clan relaxes in our comfy seats along first baseline @ the Grasshoppers game on Independence Day. Great baseball & amazing fireworks … what’s not to love?!

On 7/12, Clan Dillingham made it to the 59th Annual Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, reportedly the largest single gathering of Scottish clans in the world. We ate meat pies and Scotch eggs; danced to beautiful Celtic music; and got mini-tutorials from collectors of real Scottish weaponry.

We also had big fun doing a little ancestral digging, like finding the clan related to my maiden name, Quate. Apparently, my ancestors weren’t Vikings, as previously thought. Rather, these “watchmen” battled the Norse invaders, and hail from Aberdeenshire in Scotland’s East Highlands.

After taking a shuttle back to the van and then driving back to Granny’s, Stephen and I got to return to the games (sans kids!) to catch a concert by celtic-rock group, Seven Nations. The closing event to our grand day was made even sweeter due to the huge moon rising over Grandfather during the show. Nice.

Gabriel, my persistent adventurist, was the only one of the 3 Amigos willing to endure the long line in order to ride Penny the pony @ the Mercy Hill Block Party. It didn’t hurt that his church crush was waiting in line, too, but still.

Some significant news: I’ve been asked to be the lead facilitator of the abortion-recovery Bible study (ARBS) at the pregnancy care center! The outgoing facilitator decided to step away after years of serving in that role, and I suppose I was the natural replacement.

Reassuringly, both she and the center’s client services director have strong faith that I can actually do this thing: speaking only when necessary; listening without fail; letting the Holy Spirit do His work; sharing the Gospel; and always remembering it’s not about me, it’s about the client and her healing.

Whoa, those are some intense goals, but I do have the confidence that the Lord will provide … as long as I get out of the way (read: lighten up and believe that He will indeed equip me for the job). And with anything, the more experience you have with work, the easier it gets.

Houston finds Houston @ the Highland Games! Big bro locates his namesake family in Clan Donald, which consists of many septs in the West Highlands and islands of Scotland.

What’s intriguing is that I had been thinking I should look into other volunteer opportunities simply because the last ARBS class kind of fizzled out. See, the client was either canceling or a no-show, and every chance I had to co-lead the class never panned out, even though I had been shadowing since February. I was frustrated.

But it’s funny how just when you’re thinking, “Oh well, maybe this wasn’t meant to be after all,” God throws that something back right in your lap. Plus, what I’m realizing about volunteering at a nonprofit is that appointments don’t always unfold as neatly or on schedule as you’d like them to.

Anyhoo, things get rolling with my new gig in late August, so I’ll keep ya posted. And please keep me, the center’s volunteers, facilitators, and peer advocates, and the many clients in your prayers. Thanks!

The dudes proudly display their St. Andrew’s Cross flags while chillin’ in MacRae Meadows. If Highland warriors painted their faces blue before battle, why not the 3 Amigos?!

We began sponsoring a child through Compassion International this summer. His name is José, he’s age 6, and he lives in eastern Peru. Our financial support allows the staff of Jesús es mi Esperanza Student Center to provide José with Bible studies, health checkups, nutritious food, tutoring, and sports, among other services.

Also through the center, his parents receive health education and income-generating training. We like that Compassion doesn’t just throw money at the poor, but that they offer resources and opportunities to people, so that they may be able “rise above their circumstances and become all God has created them to be.”

We are encouraged to write letters to José, which are then translated, and also share art and photos with him. We can do this via mail or an online account, so we can get to know the actual child and him us. We aren’t just sponsors, and he’s just not a number: we’re humans interacting with one another and growing in the Lord.

The boys pose (however unwillingly, eh hem, Houston) with a kind Braveheart-esque man from Clan MacNeil.

The twins started speech therapy in late June. Both have been assessed as having mild issues, like having trouble pronouncing Rs, Ls, SHs, CHs, and a few other sounds that are typically challenging for many kids their age.

Both Gabriel and Zeke’s therapists are confident the won’t need really longterm rehab, which will hopefully be wrapping up this fall. In fact, I can already see an improvement.

Speaking of that, I am finally feeling results with my chronic muscle and tendon issues. I stopped going to the chiropractor and am now only seeing my talented physical therapist. Slowly, but surely, I am going to get my pre-pregnancy/pre-childbirth/pre-bedrest/pre-c-section body back!

Zeke & Gabriel were almost as excited to experience their first-ever ride on a school bus, which was the “shuttle,” as they were to attend the games … that is, till they saw the Scottish marching band, guys wearing kilts, massive men doing the caber toss, border collies herding sheep, etc.

I took Houston to the ophthalmologist, an appointment he has every two years specifically to keep his Horner’s eye in check. Everything looks fine with both his eyes, thank God! But as it turns out, he’s eventually going to be near-sighted like me.

The doc said that at the next appointment in 2016, Houston will most likely need prescription glasses. The specs will be used on an as-needed basis at first, but more permanent glasses or contact use will eventually be the case.

Houston’s a little bummed about it, but I have two years to impress upon him how NOT a big deal this is. Moreover, he’s so incredibly blessed that his eyesight is normal and his ptosis not severe that sweating something as small as this would really be an exercise in futility.

Once I rigged up their old teepee in Liberty Loop, the 3 Amigos decided to landscape the “fort” area so feverishly that they broke a mallet hammering downed trees. It’s a nice place to escape schoolwork or chores, relax in nature, or just play with lil’ buds (their name for stuffed animals).

Some randoms worth mentioning:

  • The boys’ aquatic skills continue to improve. For instance, while swimming at Miss Christina’s house, Houston and Gabriel (inspired by her kids, John Hunter and Gray) jumped off the diving board into the 12-feet water. It was bold stuff for sure!
  • Houston finally got to go to Build-A-Bear. So, now the twins’ bears, Cheebo and Cheebi, have a new pal, John Bearemy.
  • I took the dudes to Barnes & Noble to pick up their one free book each for completing the store’s summer-reading program. Way to go, bookworms!
  • Jackson got to pick any friend to have for a sleepover, and out of all his buddies, guess who he chose? Gabe! That child was beyond excited when he heard the news and, as usual, had a blast with the J-Crew.

Houston & Zeke lounge with lil’ buds galore! (Zeke holds his dirty feet outside, since big bro insists on keep the teepee as dirt-free as possible. Houston’s so much like his me it’s scary!)

  • Zeke’s new BFF from Mercy Hill Kids Week, Josh, invited us over for his backyard birthday party. Turns out that not only does this nice family attend our church, but they will also be part of our CC community this school year. Small world, indeed.
  • The dudes and I went to a CC potluck at the former director’s home last week. Even though the get-together was to bid a longtime family farewell, the party was a nice opportunity to get to talk with some incredible moms — something I can always use.

I am so ready to get rolling with CC! In year’s past, this is about the time when I would start getting anxious about the impending school year. But I think all the homeschool veterans were right when they said it’s about the third year when you really start getting into your groove … finally!