Feliz Navidad 2016

Our family would like to wish you the very merriest of Christmas. God has blessed us more than we deserved. It has been an interesting year for the Dear family.  We have traveled across the South a couple of times to see family and to have a little vacation time.  We entered our 12th year of homeschooling this school year. The older girls split their time between homeschool classes, classes at the local high school, and college classes for Hannah.  I am thankful that Hannah can drive herself to her classes.

Here are a few highlights from our family this year:

Noel is in his 11th year as senior pastor of FBC Heath. God is blessing our church and looking forward to the new year. He is also half way through having is doctorate degree from Southern Seminary.  I am very proud of how far he has come in his education, and we can’t wait to see him walk across that stage one day.

Hannah is a senior in high school this year.  She was co-captain of Granville High School girls tennis team and also earned her varsity letter playing first doubles. She is still excelling academically having been inducted to Cum Laude Society at GHS as well.  She is busy with her all of her classes and as well as working on all her college applications. She is excited to be accepted into one of her college choices – University of South Carolina. Hannah is still active in her musical pursuits of piano, flute(where she made district honors band), piccolo, marimba ensemble, jazz band, homeschool band, and steel drums.  Another activity Hannah is pursuing is journalism. She is the new editor of the school paper, and has had several articles published on their website as well as in print form.  One big this she has coming up is the Ohio Distinguished Young Woman scholarship competition in February.  She is representing Licking County and is very excited for this opportunity. It is just hard to believe we will be planning her graduation party soon.

Emily is a sophomore.  She just recently got her driving permit and will beginning to drive – watch out! She is keeping us busy with all of her bands.  She still loves playing her trumpet and is becoming quite accomplished with it.  She is currently playing in two bands – Granville High School Symphonic band (3rd chair) and homeschool band(1st chair). As if these two were not enough, she is in the jazz band for both Granville and the homeschool jazz band. Like Hannah she is in the steel drum band as well too.  As a result of her love for music she has been accepted into two honor bands this year – Ohio University and Cedarville University.  Currently she is working diligently on her trumpet solo she is taking to solo & ensemble this January.   In addition to all the music, she is also on the GHS girls tennis team this year as well.  She got a lot of playing time this year in singles and doubles and earned her varsity letter as well.  She would also like it to be noted that she did challenge up to and make 2nd chair in band, but because of a minor technicality she is still at 3rd. She is happy at 3rd though. One other exciting thing Emily was part of this year was spending 6 weeks of her summer with the IMB’s Endeavor program serving in Southern Mexico.  She really loved her time there serving God and ministering to the local people. She is hoping to go back this next year.

Rae is still making great strides in her reading and math.  She still works with a reading specialist and math tutor. She may complain about having to go, but she looks forward to Fridays with her friends there. She has really developed a love for science and looks forward to her little science co-op.  She is also enjoying her art co-op with Ms. Lynd and Ms. Krumm.  She is quite the artist and loves to draw manga characters.  This school year she was able to start beginner band.  Rae is learning the clarinet and is doing really well.  She has had a challenging year medically with the increase of her seizures.  This month she had epilepsy surgery to help reduce or eliminate her seizures. Everything went well, and we are happy to be home recovering.  We are thankful for how well everything went and praise God for it.  It will be at least 6 months before we will begin knowing how effective the surgery was.  That had to be the scariest day with any of our children. She went back around 7:30 am and we saw her at 6:00pm.

I have had quite a busy year between homeschooling, photography, and doing the farmer’s market.  HER Baking Co or also know as “cinnamon roll lady” had another great season at our local farmer’s market with many repeat and new customers.  I was blessed to have several weeks where I sold out.  I am teaching art again to our teens in our homeschool group. It has been a great year with a smaller group where we have been able to focus on making art as well as art and music appreciation.  Like my girls, I am still involved in our homeschool band playing the clarinet as well as our adult steel drum band, Pandamonium.  We are all looking forward to going to Virginia Beach in May to an international competition. I am still accompanying different people and choirs as well as still playing on the praise band at church.

This year we have learned to trust God more, and that He is bigger than anything we can ever imagine.  We praise Him for all things great and small.  He is truly a Good, Good Father.  We wish everyone a Merry Christmas and that you experience the joy of this season and seek Christ more in the coming new year.  

CFE Class of 2017

I guess I am still in denial, but my oldest is a senior in high school now. I have almost successfully homeschooled her since she was in kindergarten. It has been quite a ride. We have been a part a wonderful homeschool community for over 10 years and yesterday we did a photoshoot with her “classmates”. Many she has known since they were wee ones.

The CFE class of 2017 will be the largest one in our homeschool group’s history. Because of this, we decided to do a group photoshoot.  We decided to have a little fun and have a theme – hipster Disney. The girls really enjoyed it with the guys playing along.  We had a wonderful time. It did prove a little hard to get a date – but we finally did it yesterday.  We were missing a couple of their friends, but we worked with who could be there. I had fun shooting these kids, and I let them take charge and do what they wanted.  I laughed so hard at them creating what they wanted. What a fun memory that I will share with my daughter and her friends. I will have editing these pictures. I am also thankful for all of them and the bond they share.


A huge thanks to Orchard House for allowing us run of your property for pictures.



Should I sing the Adele song? I know it has been so long since I have posted, but I just haven’t found the time or been motivated to. We are doing well and ready to take on our summer. I thought last summer was strange with our sabbatical, but this summer may top it. Our family will not be all together for 7 weeks this summer.

This summer Emily will be spending 40 days in Oaxaca, Mexico with the IMB Endeavor program. She will train in NYC for 5 days before flying to Mexico to help the Zapotec people in the mountains of Southern Mexico. She will be sharing the love of Christ with the people as well as encouraging the current believers. God has provided much of the funding for her trip, and we can’t wait to see what God will do through her and the team. Thank you to all who has support her. Please pray for her and her team as the prepare. Pray that her team will bond together and be effective.

Hannah will have a busy summer as well. This summer she will be working on getting her college applications ready to submit this fall. That is her main focus this summer, and I can’t believe it is time for that already.  She is also doing some traveling. She is one of the girls representing Licking Co. American Legion at Buckeye Girls State. She is looking forward to meeting many other girls from all over the state and to participate in a mock government for a week at Mt. Union. She is also getting to go back to Super Summer at Cedarville. It is her 3rd year to go, and it has been one of her highlights of each summer. I’m excited about it as well, because I am going for the first time as well as a family leader. We are also going together on our church’s youth group mission trip as well to Cleveland. I am looking forward to spending these two weeks with Hannah. Hannah is also one of the captains of the tennis team, so she will be busy running some practices before the season starts in August.

Rae’s summer is a little less busy. She is hoping to get to play some tennis and do some swimming. She is only a little excited about getting to go to summer camp. She was accepted to the Flying Horse Farm Camp for Hematology/Oncology Week. She has not been away for a camp like this, but it should be very good for her and very fun. It is not far from where we live, so if there was a problem we would not be far away.

I will try to keep y’all updated on Emily’s trip as well as our other adventures.  Here’s to a great summer!

Band Parents

Emily is enjoying being the local high school band as well as the homeschool band. It is stretching her as a trumpet player and musician. With her being in the high school band, we are being asked to help with different things in the music program. While we haven’t joined the band boosters, we helped with the Friday night concession stand during this weeks football game.  I remember my parents helping out during concession stands when I was in school. Being a homeschool family, we do not attend many football games. I think the last high school football game I attended was one of my brother’s which has been many years ago.

Hubby and I both worked the first shift of the game. He fixed the drinks, and I was helping get the food ready and to the front line.  I was just weird and remembering back to when I was in school seeing my parents work the concession stand.

Since most people know hubby as a pastor in Heath and we were working Granville’s concession stand(they were playing each other), and we are a homeschool family – we got some interesting looks from our friends and church members we saw at the game. We did have fun, and enjoyed meeting some new people.  I’m sure you will likely see us working the concession stand again.

2015-09-11 20.37.57

I may have been working tonight for the Granville band – I decided to represent the girls tennis team as well. (I borrowed one of the girls shirts) GO ACES!

Mom Blogger

I have been writing in the blog world since April 2006. It was under a different name, but last year I decided to merge the family blog and our adoption blog into one site.  It was tough keeping both sites updated. My site has gone thru many different looks, with the main one purchasing my own domain name.  Some days my creative side comes out and I want to change the look, but some days I just need to settle on one and go with it.

I know readers have come and gone over the years. Thanks to the ones who have stuck with me and my crazy writing or lack there of.  I do enjoy writing (somedays) which is surprising since I didn’t enjoy too much in high school.  It allows me to get my thoughts out and to have an account of what out family has done.  Writing this blog and keeping it updated is one of the things I am hoping to be more faithful in doing.  It is something I am making time for.  I’m excited to see what it may turn into in the future.

I am trying to do some more interesting things with my site, of what I am not all sure.  Right now I am just trying to get my words and my thoughts out, and pick up some new readers.  One thing I am hoping to do is more product reviews and recommendations. I have a couple in the works with maybe a giveaway or two.  I hope to encourage families who are thinking of adopting or who have already adopted. I also want to encourage moms and especially homeschool moms.  Please stay with me, and share my website with your friends.  Leave me comments. I would love to hear from you.

First Day of Homeschool 2015-16

Wednesday was the first day of Dear’s Homeschool for Girls.  We were going to start the day before, but an expected medical issue came up and we had to delay the start.  One of the perks of homeschooling is that you don’t have to worry about what you are going to wear or rushing out the door or buying all the school supplies.  It is almost like any normal day – get up breakfast but instead of goofing around – we started school.  It was a little slow going, but we started back into the groove.  I had been working on getting rid of clutter and cleaning up the schoolroom for us to start this week.

I had not finished everyone’s lesson plans, but we were going to start – ready or not.  Not every subject was starting, but we had a nice start. I am excited about this new year.  I will have 2 in high school and 1 in elementary.  Hannah is somewhat self-motivated and get her stuff done and we just have to double check and keep her motivated.  With Emily, we have to keep her focused on task which we have had to do since she was little. Rae just wonders why she has to do all of this and why she is not doing the same thing her sisters did when they were her age.  She is a different kind of learner, and so many things have changed since they were in 4th grade.

I asked them all the same question about the new year. What subject are they looking forward to? Favorite school activity? Least favorite?

Hannah – She is looking forward to her AP English 12 class. She loves reading and writing and this was easy for her.  Favorite activity that she currently is enjoying is tennis. She is not looking to some of her college classes where she has to drive to multiple places.

Emily – Now being in high school (YIKES!!) she is looking forward to her Spanish and Writing class. As far as activities it is drama because she moves up to the high school homeschool drama group. Her least favorite, which has been the same every year, math (Algebra 1)

Rae – She is excited about learning Astronomy and starting tennis back up. She is not looking forward to history. While taking this pic she also informed me she doesn’t like school at all.


Keeping it real for what it is like to take pictures with these 3. Life in our school.


My prayer for our new year is that we do everything for His Glory. We strive to always do our best even when it is hard. I also pray we will not get caught up in the busyness of the world around us, and we focus on what is important and do what God has called us to do.

Hears to a new year – may it be the best one yet!!


Weekends – How I love you!

After my baking was over on Friday, it was time for the weekend to get going. Friday afternoon the Dear Sisters had a tennis match at home against Worthington Christian. Hubby and I decided that it would be fun to ride our bikes to the match. We have not been bike riding all summer, and we thought it would be a perfect day for it. After a little stop and start by the little one, we finally made it to the courts.  I was truly a beautiful afternoon for tennis and a bike ride. The little one was happy knowing there was going to be Whit’s in the end.

Hannah and Emily got their second chance at playing doubles since they were rained out earlier in the week.  It is funny to hear them announce them as the Dear Sisters. They played great together and won their match 6-1, 6-0.  They both had great shots, and Emily got an Ace. It was a great win for them.  It was great for the team as well since they won too.

"Venus and Serena"

“Venus and Serena”

After their match, the big girls went to teen night.  They were so happy to see their friends, since they had not seen many of them since the end of the school year.  I am so thankful we have a wonderful homeschool group with families who are investing in our children’s lives.

You would think, the weekend could not get any better, but wait – we cleaned the playroom and “tunnel” (what we call our storage area). The girls were not too excited, but it had to be done. I know it was not what everyone wanted to do, but we had clothes to be put away, things to be cleaned and organized, and another got step forward to be ready to start school.  I’m not sure we are ready for school, but the room is getting there.

My favorite part of the weekend is always Sunday. I get to come together with my family and my faith family to worship.  It was a wonderful day of worship and preaching. OK, I may be biased about the preacher, but he is my favorite.

This weekend has gotten me ready to face the week, but weekends I do love when you come around. What was your favorite part of your weekend?


Dear Magazine

I know many of your have seen that with our last name of Dear can make for some fun comments. I have used it to name my photography business and my old blog. It drives my girls crazy when I call out “dear children” or “dear girls” when it is time to leave somewhere.

Last week HEDUA announced a new magazine that they will be coming out with for teen girls in January.  You can go to their website and see a preview.  It is a very beautiful magazine, and the best part – their website domain – www.mydearmag.com. Is that not precious?? This is HEDUA description of their new magazine –

The New Magazine Just For Young Women!

HEDUA and Home Educating Family Magazine have branched out and created a daughter publication: DEAR Magazine. An up and coming young women’s magazine, perfect for your own daughter! It’s launching in 2015 and focusing on everything from faith to fashion. It’s filled with an array of beautiful pictures, helpful tips, and wholesome articles that any young woman is sure to enjoy.

Click here to find out more about this new magazine.


Our Homeschool Curriculum

Our family is entering its 10th year of homeschooling.  I can’t believe we are still doing this.  I never thought I would be a homeschool mom, but here I am and so thankful for this journey.  There are days I almost wanted to put them on the bus, but we have stayed the path God laid before us. Do we have the perfect homeschool? NO!  Are there days I want to throw in the towel? YES!  You know what – with God’s help and grace – we keep going! I have asked the girls if they wished we had put them in school, and the older two are glad they are homeschooled. The little one is happy to be learning at home too since she has to go to school for her ELL class. The school seemed to overwhelming for her.  Homeschooling is also great for families who adopt older children to allow them to work at their own speed.

Every year different moms ask what curriculum do I use? We are traditional homeschoolers meaning I am the primary teacher and choose my own curriculum. We have used so many different kinds over the years, and after trial and error we have zoned in to what works for us. Currently, I homeschool one girl in elementary, one in middle school, and one in high school. I try not to think too hard on that, or I may go a little crazy.  In the early years we used primarily Abeka. Abeka is what I actually used in elementary school, so I was familiar with it. I also liked that the language arts was phonics heavy. As the girls got older I started to branch out and see what was out there. Through the years I started pulling in Math-u-See, Bob Jones, Apologia, IEW, unit studies, and what ever worked. The girls have been in different co-ops that contributed to their learning.  I also found that being in a great homeschool group and going to homeschool conventions also helped me learn more of what was out there. I got more comfortable with my role as mom and teacher.

Several years ago we added to our family thru adoption. WOW! Did that upset the homeschooling apple cart? I was just going to use what worked for the other girls. Boy was I wrong. My new daughter was not like the other two and learned differently. I had to go out and learn about new curriculum and methods. I had to figure out how to fill in the holes that were missing from her early life. I also had to get some outside help.  We still struggle, but homeschooling has been the best option for the little one.

So, what do I use? Here is what we are currently using for each child:

  • Rae – Math-u-See, Spelling-u-See, Explode the Code, Unit Studies(she is a visual learning so we are working through different units to learn. A great resource for these – www.currclick.com.
  • Emily – Bob Jones World Studies(history), Math-U-See Pre-Algebra, Apologia Gen. Science(this is a great one to do with a co-op), Bob Jones Writing and Grammar, Bob Jones Literature, Shorter Catechism (hand writing), Wordly Wise (vocabulary). I am also sprinkling in reading books and using the Total Language Plus directed reading guides. I also hope to add in Grammar of Poetry by Roman Roads Media.
  • Hannah – AP English (thru local high school), Math-U-See Algebra 2, Apologia Biology (with co-op), History/Government is done with her dad. They usually read biographies of historical significance, but currently they are doing the Constitution 101 class from Hillsdale College online. Mandarin (online class thru BYU)

So, it is hard to pick one curriculum for us and just go with it. Early on it is trial and error, but I look at the scope and sequence of each one and how they approach learning the subject.  I do look for a more conservative curriculum that doesn’t seek to change history or ignore creation. You may see in my list that I do have favorites. Why did I choose them?

  • Math-U-See– It is sequential. My husband(the math man) approved it, and it explains math more than just memorizing facts.
  • Bob Jones History – It goes sequentially through history, and it also contains Biblical history, and it is also challenging with each year.
  • Spelling-U-See – It is the sister to MUS, and was recommended for the little by the Dr. Karen Holinga the reading doctor.
  • Apologia Science – It is based on creationism, and in the younger years we were able to do science together. I also finding it more challenging for the middle school and high school ages.
  • Wordly Wise – This is a great vocabulary builder. It has help my girls when it comes to hard words and doing well on achievement tests, and now the PSAT and ACT.

One funny thing about our school is that we have named it. Many families name their schools for different reasons. Our school is The Dear School for Girls. The girls have fun with it when telling their non-homeschool friends.


School Time Again

It’s that time of year when school is starting and all of us homeschool moms are trying to stretch summer just a little longer.  While Hannah has started her one class, our official school has not.  Hannah is taking one class – AP English – at Granville High School this year under her tennis coach.  We felt this class would be great college prep at this time for her and something we could not teach her to the best of our abilities. I get to participate in the morning carpool line at the school, something I didn’t know if I would ever get to do.  We are thankful that our school district is very welcoming and accommodating.

Tennis is also in full swing. Multiple matches and practices have been held. Many trips to the school and courts each day. Both girls are having a good season, and I hope they continue to improve throughout the season.

We are hoping to get our new school year started after Labor Day. I will finish getting everything organized and find my desk. I need to get old books put away and get the new all out and organized.  The girls are somewhat excited to start back. They are mostly excited about drama, art, and band starting back.  I am looking forward to seeing all the moms again.

Here’s to a new school year. I am trying to come up with an inventive first day of school pic.

hannah's first day of high school