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The Homeschooling Gift I Never Expected

As I’ve shared before, homeschooling was never something I thought I would be doing. You can read more about that journey HERE, but in short, after lots of prayer, conversations, and advice from people we deeply respect, we finally came to the conclusion that this was something the Lord was calling us to do – at least for a season.


And while I never expected to be in this role, the more we thought and prayed about it, the more excited I became.


I knew there would be some incredible benefits to being home with my kids and homeschooling them as they approached school age.


I knew that I would be able to build a strong academic foundation while also being able to pour into my kids spiritually. I wanted to be able to weave Biblical truths into our teaching and I knew

that was not something that would be possible at a public school.


I loved the fact that I was going to know the nuances of my kids simply because I would have months and years to observe their behaviors. Having had my oldest in childcare until he was around 18 months, I loved the fact that now I was going to be the one who would pick up on little things that no one else might notice, simply because I was around them so much.


I looked forward to building strong relationships with my kiddos just because we would spend so much time together and do so many things together. The sheer quantity of time we would have together would be irreplaceable.


With two energy-filled boys, I was thankful that they were not going to be locked into an 8am-3pm class schedule at such young ages. They would have plenty of time to play, use their imaginations, run around outside, and not be subject to so many of the demands that are placed on our young children.


All of these things were things that I expected, or at least hoped, would come out of me leaving the classroom, staying home with my boys, and homeschooling. However, in the past few months, I have seen another incredible gift that has come out of this decision.


My boys are best friends.


And I’m not meaning the kind of “Well, we’re brothers so of course we’re friends.” No, I mean the kind of best friends that if they could choose anyone to do something with, both of my boys would choose each other.


Recently, we asked our boys individually (when the other one wasn’t around), “So, who would you say is your best friend?” Without hesitation, they both replied, “My brother.”


My oldest tends to be an early riser, and if he’s been awake for more than 10 minutes or so, he’s eagerly waiting for his brother to arise – sometimes going in and waking him up just because he “misses him so much” (his words, not mine).


When one of them gets hurt, the other one often cries too.


And just this past week, my boys were at AWANAS, and it was “Store Night.” My oldest picked out an item for himself and one just for his brother with his AWANA bucks. My younger son (who is in a younger class and doesn’t earn bucks just yet) got to pick one item from the store. When we picked them up, the gift my oldest had selected for his brother was the exact gift the younger son had picked out. He knew his brother so well that out of all the items in the store, he knew exactly which one his brother would want.


I’m not saying any of this to brag – believe me, they have their moments, and sometimes they really just need some space from one another.


But I share this because I truly believe that their closeness has come as a result of our choice to homeschool for this season.


This is our third year “officially” homeschooling our oldest and I started thinking. 3 years, approximately 180 school days every school year, at around 7 hours a day. That’s 3,780 hours that these boys have spent together that they otherwise would have been separate. And that’s a lot of time.


A lot of time to build a relationship. A lot of time to have shared memories. A lot of time to talk, laugh, and play together. Plenty of time to get on one another’s nerves, but also plenty of time to learn how to talk, forgive, and make-up.


I know that this isn’t a possibility for everyone, and I know that every kid is different, but the relationship that has developed between my boys is absolutely priceless. And one I pray that will only grow stronger over time.


We don’t know how long we will homeschool, but this unexpected gift is something I will always be grateful for!

Faith, Family, Homeschool, Parenting

My Absolute Favorite Post-Thanksgiving Tradition



No, it has nothing to do with shopping…..but everything to do with family!


You see, my parents had tremendous foresight.


Several years ago (far more than I care to admit), when my siblings and I were still living at home, but were quickly approaching the time when we’d begin to move out and start new chapters of our lives, they instituted a new yearly “celebration.”


My parents knew that as their kids got older, got married, and had kids of their own, it would become increasingly difficult to always have all of the holidays all together. Oh, we would most definitely try, but because they wanted to prioritize time together as a family, without adding extra stress or overwhelm to their kids and families, they started Soupus.


It was really quite simple – Soup + Us = Soupus.


And I cannot tell you how much everyone looks forward to this Every. Single. Year!


There’s so much I love about this family tradition, but I think the thing that I love the most is that I get to see so many people I care about. Of course, I get to see my parents, my brother and his family, and my sister and hers, but I get to see so much extended family – grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors, friends from high school…..the list goes on.


And because it’s not a formal dinner, we can all get together without anyone having to stress about preparing and hosting an elaborate meal for 40+ people!!


So, now that I have you totally sold on this tradition, let me share some of the details.


We have always had this the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Everyone does their own smaller Thanksgiving (we’re usually at my husband’s parents) on Thursday, and then EVERYONE comes together on Saturday. People have had a chance to “recover” from all the food on Thursday, have gotten their Black Friday shopping in, and are eagerly awaiting Saturday.


In the morning, my dad organizes some kind of game or activity. We have done everything from baseball, to flag football, to ultimate frisbee, to whiffle ball, and this year, we’re trying pickle ball (it’s all the rage, haha). The games are pretty low key, but with my family there’s always a bit of a competitive spirit. And as more kids have been born and are now old enough to play (and perhaps some of us have gotten a little older), we usually have one kid oriented game and one more adult oriented game.


After an hour or two, everyone heads back home to shower and clean up.


Then, around 3pm, or so, everyone heads over to my parents. And when I say everyone, I mean everyone. Some years we’ve had 35 or so people, and other years we’ve gotten closer to the 60 mark! My mom has the most tremendous gift of hospitality and welcomes people into her home with such generosity and grace. But it’s such a fun and unique tradition, that it seems like once you’ve come, you always want to come back! My in-laws, and all my siblings in-laws come (and sometimes even other members of their family). Old friends from high school or college (whom I rarely talk to during the year), will call just to make sure Soupus is still on!


Like I said, no one is responsible for making a huge formal dinner, but several families bring over crock pots full of soup, others bring bread, some bring appetizers, and we always have more than a couple of desserts.


We also have some sort of “cooking competition” – and if you watch Food Network, you’ll have an idea of what I’m talking about. We designate some category or ingredient and whoever wants to brings a dish for the competition. Some of the ones we done in the past are: apple, pumpkin, cinnamon, maple, and pomegranate. Sometimes it’s more broad – appetizer, dessert.


Over the course of the afternoon, people can try any or all of the competition pieces, and then vote for their top 3. At the end of the day, my mom tallies all of the votes and has prizes for the top 3 (my mom is seriously THE cutest thing!!)


We usually eat around 5pm – and it’s always fun to try the different soups and see what everyone brings (my sister makes the most amazing Tomato Soup!)


And while everyone is “semi-gathered” someone (who knows ahead of time), shares a short devotion pointing us to Christmas and the TRUE reason we are celebrating. Sometimes it’s read from a book, other times just a few verses are shared, and still others just share what the Lord has put on their heart. It is a beautiful time to reflect and refocus as we enter the Christmas season.


Then, as the evening wraps up, my mom usually has some sort of craft for the kids and everyone begins to head home. And I assure you that as each goes their own way, they leave not only with full bellies, but with full hearts as well.


Soupus has become a beloved tradition for our family, and I’m thrilled to be able to share it with you today!


If you decide to give it a try, I’d love to hear how it goes – and how you tweaked it to work for your family!


Hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving – and a Happy Soupus!


Faith, Family, Holidays