New set of wheels.

Down here in the land of the tropics, where all things in nature grow quickly and in plenty, a good mower is a must! In our effort to be as transportable as possible, we decided to find a mower in Florida, rather than haul one down all the way from Maryland. Ken’s brother has been loaning his to us weekly since our arrival. He would graciously continue to do so, but this good deal popped up for sale right in our own neighborhood:

new mower

 

We drove by it for over a week before stopping. Ken kept thinking that it wasn’t a large enough mower deck. However, the urge to pull over took over and we stopped in a few days ago. Turns out, it’s everything Ken had been looking for (except an over-50-inch-cutting-deck). We reasoned that since the operators of said machine will for the most part be under 5 feet tall, it was quite a suitable size.

new mower colenew mower halia

 

new mower dean

 

new mower riss

 

So we’re the new proud owners of a mower. Don’t worry, only those trusted and shown approved will be cutting the grass. Maybe 1 or 2 of those pictured above. 🙂

–Beth

 

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First day of school.

What a day of mixed emotions! Jake started high school today! Actually, he pretty much started last week. But today was his official first day with Circle Christian School, a private home school academy where he’ll be taking classes twice a week. His classes are: Humanities (which includes Language Arts and American History, presented through a biblical worldview), a 3 hr. class; Biology, a 1.5 hr. class; and Algebra 1, a 1.5 hour class. Of course, his day will include a lunch break and a couple 10 min. breaks. It’s going to be a challenging year for him, based on what we see the in class overviews. I’m sure he’s up for the challenge! I really look forward to learning alongside him. He’ll have a few other subjects at home as well, altogether earning 7.5 credits for 9th grade.

Anyway, back to the mixed emotions part. It’s a complicated thing to be so proud and excited and sad at the same time. It seemed not too long ago that I was taking pictures of his first day of Kindergarten. Really, he’s the same sweet, sensitive and funny and thoughtful boy he was at 5. Just in a bigger package. We checked his height this morning; he’s grown over 1.5 inches just since April!

We’re so thankful for this young man in our family and are grateful for what the Lord is doing in his life. We look forward to seeing what special things lie in store for him in the future! We will miss him while he’s away 2 days per week, but feel much peace about where he is studying and what he is learning it makes it worth it.

august 2007 020jake 1st day 9th grade

First day of 2nd grade (Jake on the left, Cole on the right); First day of 9th grade. Super cute either way! 🙂

Keeping me on my toes still at home are 4 other “Maucklets” who look to me as their primary instructor – yikes! Although there is a desk in each of the rooms upstairs (girls’ and boys’), they all decided to work near each other at the new table in the dining/school room. I am loving the way the room is coming together and it’s so pleasant to be in that I happily agreed. (More on the room in another post). Marissa called out to everyone to give her a hand moving all the chairs from the kitchen table to the dining room table (since I don’t have the chairs refinished yet). It was sweet to observe them excitedly preparing the place they were going to be working.

first day school 2014 4

We all fit around it with room to spread books out a bit. And, it doubles as a cafeteria at lunch time:

first day school 2014

Dean initially said while sitting at the table early in the day, “I’m so excited to be starting school again!” I think the enthusiasm wore off by the end school time. The kids overall were eager learners. We got a visit from a wild visitor — a gopher turtle crossing the front yard — so we took a break to observe it closer.

gopher turtle

That led me to make studying gopher tortoises with Dean and Marissa our science for the day. After all, we do live in Florida now and should be familiar with the natural habitat. Here’s what they each dictated to me for the science journals:

“The gopher tortoise grows to 10-16 inches. They are a wild species. Do not touch them. They are endangered. The females have a flat bottom shell, and the males have a bump on theirs.” (Marissa)

“A gopher tortoise has strong legs for digging tunnels and holes. It can live as long as 100 years. Other animals find safety in the holes. When the eggs are in cooler temperatures, it hatches a male. If the temperature is warmer, it hatches a female.” (Dean)

Now you know a little bit about gopher turtles, too! Just what you’ve been dying to know, huh??!!

gopher turtle first day school

(That’s one of our kitty cats right next to the tortoise)

I wouldn’t say we accomplished a whole day’s worth of school, by any means. But we enjoyed our time and put up a good effort! So that’s good enough for a first day for me.

–Beth

P.S. Jake came home saying his day was OK — not bad and not great. First days can be like that. The setting was pretty overwhelming and he only knew (more like, recognized) one other person. And it was a girl. So it’s not like they hit it off. 🙂 But he has a positive attitude about it all and I appreciate that. He’ll know plenty of other kids in no time!

Dean.

This guy just turned 7.

dean2dean 4dean

 

Yikes! I can’t believe my baby is that old! And it’s been never a dull moment since he came into the world. He’s keeping us smiling (the things that come out of his mouth!), dancing (he likes to come up with “new moves”), laughing (the expressions he can make!) and sleeping well at night, in order to re-coup and keep up with him the next day.

He had a mishap around the pool last weekend so we got ourleselves an introduction to the local children’s hospital near to our new home. He ended up with 7 stitches but received so much attention from the family I don’t think he minded the whole ordeal! When I mentioned putting a healing oil onto his wound to help reduce scarring, he told me, “No, I want a scar. Scars make you look tough.” Since that fateful night of stitches–with siblings and parents, an aunt, an uncle and cousins fawning all over him about it–he’s run into opportunity for a few other more minor injuries as well. If I didn’t know how much it is annoying him due to the hindrance of swimming time, I would think he was purposeful about it!

I tucked him into bed last night, his foot wrapped with medical tape, a Band-aid on his thumb and a rather large scar on his left shin, fresh-free of stitches. I thought to myself, “Man, he looks tough!” 😉

–Beth

dean driving golf cart 3  dean driving golfcartdean driving golf cart 2

Girls’ Room Re-do.

When we decided to start painting our “new-to-us” house in Florida, Ken and I both agreed to paint our girls’ room first. The room they ended up making theirs was a grain mustard color with dingy blue drapes, and not at all appropriate for two young ladies. Here are some before pictures. I think you’ll agree it had to go!

girls' room before 1 girls room before 2 girls room before 3

We also wanted to switch up the bed situation. The layout wasn’t flowing like we wanted it to. The twin beds weren’t working for the space. Since the girls ended up sharing a twin bed most of the time, we decided to use the beautiful full size bed given to us by a friend of my parent’s. It had previously been our guest room bed, but since we anticipate more visitors in Florida than we had in Maryland, we knew we wanted to upgrade the guest bed to a queen size. So we brought the bed from the guest room and then decorated with everything we already had. We decided the room needed an area rug to soften the space and quiet it a bit, so we found one on clearance in Target! It’s an indoor/outdoor carpet and very easy to clean. We love how it pops in the room! We also picked up the night tables at an antique market in a nearby quaint town called Oviedo. Ken and his brother David and all the kids were very patient while my sister-in-law and I scoured the place. But we came away with the night tables so it was a successful visit! It all came together quite beautifully and the girls are really happy with the room. I’m so glad! The colors throughout the space blend so nicely and I can use pink, purple, grey and aqua (as you see a lot of in the photos) as accents. The color we used on the wall is called Coquette, from the Baer paint collection. Enjoy these “after” shots:

girls room after 1 girls room after 3 girls room after 4 girls room after 6 girls room after 7 girls room after 8

girls room after 2

It’s so much cheerier and brighter now! A beautiful room for beautiful girls!

girls (2)

–Beth 🙂

Bittersweet.

If ever an event were to fit that description, this would be it: our family’s move. It is the eve before our leave . . . tomorrow we’re off to establish ourselves as residents of Florida! Yes, a beautiful place—the Sunshine State—full of new places to visit, people to meet and minister to, adventures to experience, and family members to love on. Sweet, for sure.

We have racked up precious memories with dearly loved friends and family in our home state of Maryland over our 15 ½ years of marriage . . . we fell in love, courted and made vows; welcomed 5 children into our family; bought our first home; buried loved ones; laughed with friends; cried with them, too; known great joy and great sorrow. We will cherish what we’ve experienced over those years. Those memories and loved ones are what make “going” so tough. Therein lies the bitter.

And yet, our family is excited about this next step in our journey throughout life. We believe this will draw us closer, knit our hearts together in an even more precious way than they already are. We look forward to having the family we love and friends we’ve collected through the years come and visit. How busy we all are and how often we get caught up doing our own things – our family has been guilty of being weighed down with our “to-do list” and forgetting what really matters: relationships. It is our desire to build deeper ones as we share meals together under the same roof with our houseguests; serving them, feeding them, entertaining them and catching up with them.

If it’s one thing we know, it’s that times change and life goes on. It’s that Jesus goes before us, and comes behind us, seamlessly weaving our lives into a beautiful tapestry. We see only one strand at a time, and sometimes not even that. Yet, as we look back, we observe a bigger portion of the work of art and say, “Ahhh, I see. It is beautiful.” Our God has always been faithful, and will continue to be. We eagerly await what He will do in our future!

We like to think we’re not really saying, “Goodbye” . . . but more or less, “See you later!” For we do indeed hope to see so many in the future! While we head down the 95 South corridor tomorrow–, our hearts will be overwhelmed with so many emotions. Which, as I have so often leading up till this moment,  will turn into prayers – for safety, encouragement, comfort and blessing. For us, and for all those saying goodbye to us. For those waiting to say hello when we arrive at our Florida destination.

We’ll have tears, knowing we leave so many sweet times and people in Maryland.  And we’ll have smiles, knowing so much adventure and many new relationships lie ahead of us in Florida.

Yes, truly bittersweet. It’s comforting knowing that the word ends with sweet.

Beth