I’m thankful for . . . Part 3

**I’m going to take a little time to write a “featurette” about each of the kids this Thanksgiving season. Because, well – I’m thankful for them! And I love ‘em. How unique they are! We are blessed by them being a part of our family and we enjoy watching each unfold into the person God has created him or her to be, and we are grateful.** If you missed the first part about Jake, you can read it here; for part 2 (about Cole), click here.

I realize that this is going out to the public on Thanksgiving Day, so before I go forward — Happy Thanksgiving! We miss so many of you, our dear family and friends. We pray today is a blessed one.

Moving right along, in no particular order, I’m sharing today about one of our sweet daughters, Halia. She was born into our family as the 3rd child. Before she was born, we were sure she was going to be a boy. Most Maucks had been boys — for generations! We were so wildly excited to welcome a daughter and sister into our little brood. And 11.4 years later, she’s still a joy (most of the time!) 🙂

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Lately, these days, recently, she’s been very crafty. But then, that’s not just recent. She’s always been crafty. This week she was rather secretive about something including Mod-Podge and tin cans. I can’t wait to see what she’s come up with! (I hear Christmas is right around the corner, and have a hunch I may find out then what she’s made!) I just love ModPodge. So does she. And she uses it better than I do.

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Speaking of using things, Halia is a sort-of “techie”. I actually ask her questions about how to use technology around the house. She navigates the smart TV and gets Pandora running on it, no problem. She created a couple collages online at PicMonkey (have you heard of it? It’s pretty cool!) She set contact photos for most of you on my phone. 🙂 She just picks that stuff up so easily. If she doesn’t know what to do, she clicks around and figures it out. She’s sharp.

Speaking of sharp, Halia is a natural learner. She moves through her school assignments with ease. She absorbs information throughout the day. She’s good with numbers. She’s good with words. She’s got a terrific memory, and quickly masters her weekly Bible verse from youth group. She’ll remember what artist sings which song, or what someone was wearing at a particular function.

halia with little one

Speaking of clothes, Halia is showing a wonderful ability to put together an outfit. We’re enjoying shopping together even more than we have in the past and she’s a great help at choosing clothing. I’ve begun to let her choose many of Marissa’s outfits out as well, because I just love what she combines. So much so, I check with her after I’ve put something on. She can assess quickly how it looks.

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Speaking of quick, Halia is not. I mean to say, her brain is quick, but her body isn’t. She likes to take her time. Getting out the door, cleaning up her room, sweeping the porch, washing the dishes. She is laid back and relaxed–which I love about her–so she brings that approach to most of what she does. It’s a good balance for me. She’s creative, people. She needs time for those juices to flow!

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Speaking of creative, Halia loves to make things. Her project over the last month was making a section of the barn into a play house for her and Marissa. And then they surprised Dean by creating one for him right next door to them. 🙂 She is artistic and loves to draw. She’s pretty amazing with a pen. Or marker. Could be pencil. She has even done Sharpie pictures, with big, bold lines that turn into beautiful coloring pages for Marissa. Marissa has a collection of them that she loves.

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Speaking of collection, Halia is getting into photography as of late, and is racking up a nice collection of lovely flower photos. We think she’s got a good eye for it. She’s now convinced she wants to be a photographer someday. Along with some graphic design. And some singing/song-writing (she also has started writing songs and has sweetly decorated a notebook to house what she pens). 🙂

flower collage

Speaking of sweet, she’s become quite a baker. Of cupcakes from scratch! Oh my, they’re delicious! My hips are not thrilled. Great baking combined with artistic ability, and she’s a force to be reckoned with! She has blessed neighbors with them. She’s blessed her dad’s colleagues. She’s blessed her small group. She’s blessed a group dinner at church. Generally, anyone who has tasted one has been blessed.

PicMonkey Collage

tray of cupcakes

Speaking of blessed, we are — by Halia being a part of our family. Not because she can bake yummy quiche for dinner. Or because each day she wakes with a smile. Or shares her hugs freely. Or writes sweet notes of encouragement. Or plays great games with her younger brother. Or gives her younger sister a helping hand so very often. We just plain love her for the beautiful young lady she was created by God to be on the outside, and the beauty she’s choosing in her heart as she seeks to honor God with her life. She’s growing up fast and we know she’ll be spreading her wings someday. But for right now, this moment, she’s just a precious 11. And we’re grateful.

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–Beth

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Our first guest.

We had the privilege of hosting our first official guest since moving into this house. I say “official”, because dad helped us move in and actually stayed overnight in the house before we did. But it wasn’t pretty. It was just him, a pillow, and an air mattress. He was a trooper!

But now, NOW we have the guest room all ready. We scurried around to put the finishing touches on it before the guest arrived. (More on the room another time.)

Let’s talk about the guest — who was it? It was my mom! It was so nice having her here! She flew in 2 Mondays ago and stayed for about 6 days. Dad was working back in MD, so mom traveled alone this time. She was easy to accommodate. Her plane actually landed early and she didn’t even say so — she just waited at the airport!

We picked her up and she fell right in line with what we had going for the week. Which wasn’t all that exciting. Mostly just school and work (for Ken). We had a lovely time with her, though. The younger two practiced their reading with her each day, and she read The Long Winter to them. We ran a few errands, ate a few meals at home and a few meals out. She made a trip to the grocery store for me, and hung out with the kids while Ken and I attended a school gathering. She told the kids plenty of stories about her childhood, which prompted Cole to let me know after she’d been gone for a couple days that I didn’t tell good stories. I guess I need to improve that.

A few highlights of the visit were the boys taking her fishing (well, it might have been their highlight, not hers.) They caught their biggest bass ever!

fishing with grandmom

We visited some local thrift shops. Three, to be exact. It was wonderful, since we hadn’t scouted those out before then. And at the last one we found what we had been looking for. Mom had a great idea of fixing up some older furniture pieces into a play kitchen for the girls’ “play house” out in the barn. She patiently planned and painted with Halia:

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and they turned a couple of cabinets and a little wooden stand into this:

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playhouse kitchen

 

This is mom and the girls using the golf cart to “deliver” the kitchen to the play house in the barn:

playhouse kitchen delivery to barn

Mom took a late night trip to the emergency room with the girls and I as well, to be sure Halia hadn’t broken her arm; thankfully, it was just sprained.

trip to hospital for halia's sprained arm

We also visited Park Ave in Winter Park and enjoyed some burgers at an outdoor table. It was a beautiful day! We strolled the avenue and the kids got some ice cream. We laughed a lot while we watched Tim Hawkins’ Greatest Bits dvd — oh my word, did we laugh! She also helped put together a new chore system for me to orchestrate with the kids! So far, we’re one week into it, it’s going well. Thanks, mom! The kids just loved having you here! No really, they did. 😉

Even at the end of the visit, Ken and I enjoyed our extra time with her while we drove her out to the airport in Tampa. A family member had given her a ticket for her return flight, so it was free and that part was great, but Tampa’s a little far — and due to a traffic backup from an accident on I-4 coming home, I think she actually landed before Ken and I pulled back into our driveway! But we stopped and had dinner, so it worked out well — like a little bonus date for us.

It was a special visit with Grandmom and we are thankful she took time to join in on life down here with us. Ken said to me: “She was easy to have here!” Words like that from a son-in-law means it must have been a successful visit. 🙂

–Beth

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.

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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

 

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.

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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.

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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!