gosh, we woke up to the most magnificent view. so peaceful, beyond what i needed and if i could pick this sweet lake up and transport it home with me, i would. the boys were anxious to get back out the the lake to fish and this sweet girl was bouncing around with joy and excitement, as always.Read More
a few weeks ago I went to visit my mother for a week, with the kids. I haven't been to visit my mommy in so very long. she lives far from me and between the lack of transportation and brian's minimal time off, it hasn't been possible to make the trip. that is, until brian's sister and her husband called to ask if i would like to ride with them to see my mom?!?!???
just so happens, she had to take a board exam around the area that my mother lives and they rented an air bnb near the lake to stay for the week. wait, what???
so the kids and i packed up and headed off to spend the week with grammy :)Read More
it is finally happening! we are cleaning out the garage to make a space for a creative studio. its small. it won't be fancy. but, it will be all ours!!! a couple weeks ago we started cleaning out all the junk and prepping for the walls to be painted. all white walls should brighten up the place and make for a nice backdrop for all of the supplies that will find there homes here.
it is amazing how much stuff you accumulate through the years. we purge and give and organize OFTEN. still, there is lots of mess.
I have a very loose and simple idea for how i would like things to be. a space for shooting, a spot for filming, an area for tinkering and plenty of room for painting. basically, just space to create.
you can watch a quick time-lapse of how things began on our vlog and follow the process throughout the weeks to come!!
can't wait to add some extra living space to our spring and summer time fun. i am SO open to suggestions of how we can make the space more functional and fun!
From Syreena, With Love
over the last couple of years, i've been in constant prayer for direction, healing, growth... light. my instructions were to take pictures, tons of videos, write it all down. odd, i know. but, i am happy to say that i have been faithful!!! every photo, every video that sometimes takes 5-6 hours of editing, every random blog post & private journal entry…
being so transparent can be scary, or there could simply be no other option but to share how good GOD can be in your life... if you let him. if you stand for him. when you let your faith and love work & believe in what seems impossible.
these last two years have been rough. we’ve lost jobs, run through savings, stood in line to purchase food with no money...
to every cashier that said the person in front took care of it. every person who balled up a $100 bill and slipped it in our hands at the tail end of a friendly hug. for you, who wrote out that random $1000 check not knowing that we were short EXACTLY that for our mortgage.
all the memory keeping has made it impossible for me to overlook GOD'S goodness in the midst of our storms.
we’ve had parents that have given us cars, cousins that have purchased the kids clothing, friends that have gifted play dresses, have restocked towels when ours were destroyed when our bathroom flooded. uncles that have given us school room tables (our pick with no cost limit), family that has supported our school monthly. church family members that have gifted us bedroom sets and even cases of legos that would have cost us a many coins on our own. parents who give us a budget to buy gifts for the kids (for christmas & birthdays) along with grand-sitting services to give us a day alone to shop for them.
sometimes when you step out in faith it feels like you walked into the FLIPPING WILDERNESS. and, in a way you have!!
to you who keeps sowing those seeds into the lives of others, for every gift you’ve given & every seed you've sown, THANK YOU!!! YOU have been LOVE in our lives. DON'T TAKE YOUR ACTS OF KINDNESS LIGHTLY. YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU MIGHT BE HELPING SOMEONE TO ENDURE!!!!!
to you who is still pressing to endure. i’m sharing just in case you wanted to give up today. i’m sharing just in case you might consider giving up tomorrow.
this isn’t the end of our story, it is just the beginning.
i was a lot easier on myself this time around. nothing super fancy, very simple, and i didn't overcomplicate anything. i would call that growth, people. first, let me back it up a little bit.
happy valentine's day!!!!
i spent the day loving on my babies and waiting for daddy to come home to open a few valentine's day goodies from his babies. i had to take the kids to a dentist appointment the day before and had a car to run out to the stores for a bit, to find something that daddy might like.
i've decided that, from now on, valentine's day is going to be more about daddy in our house. besides birthdays and father's day, the kids are celebrated everyday, and i get a few extra special days for "teacher appreciation" through the year. it seems that daddy could use another day that is all about him!
it took me a solid 25 minutes that get a few good pictures where their "fake smiles" weren't in full effect. and, then i caught this gem below where kendall's dimples were shining in all of their glory! it is my favorite!!!
and, how about this keeper that my big took with the "big" camera. i just love it so very much.
i meant to vlog the whole day but i couldn't find my camera and was so frustrated until i realized that brian had it with him the whole time. (at least he vlogged a little...)
from syreena, with love
i just did this about 30 days ago. you know, try to find the words to describe how much one of my babies means to me. i am kinda wishing they were born with more space in-between them and that their birthday's weren't back to back. too much, y'all... too much! just 30+ days ago, my youngest baby boy turned SIX. today, my oldest baby boy turns EIGHT!!!!!
and, when asked if he felt older he says, "yeah, because I'm taller!" LOL
it had been a tough week for me and I forgot to blow up the balloons 🎈🎈🎈to put them in his room that night. so, I blew them up and scattered them around the breakfast table in the morning. but, he noticed 👀. he's the one that notices. he's the one that pays attention to the details. he's the one that appreciates and soaks up the little things. he has such a special heart ❤️. and, i am so blessed to be his mom!
brian picked up this card and a few gifts for his birthday the day before (these few months hit us hard. christmas, kendall's birthday in january, cam's birthday in february, valentines day... its a lot of gift giving!!!) anyways, it was just a card. but he read the words carefully. he thought about what they meant. he dissected the nature of the pop-up inside and spent a good amount of time uncovering how they made the Spider-Man "feel puffy". he carried the card around all day, and then he tucked it in a special corner inside of his nightstand. i study them. as a mother, i have so many flaws, but one thing I do well is study them. it helps me to understand better who they are and who they will grow to be. children are such a gift and a treasure. in the thick of motherhood, i pray that i will always take the time to see it that way.
i am currently editing the vlog from his birthday and once it is uploaded, ill be sure to replace the picture below with a link to the completed video of my baby's EIGHTH birthday :)
happy birthday, my precious boy.
you made me a MOM and i will be forever grateful for that
from mommy, with love
it has been 26 days since his 6th birthday I'm i am still trying to figure out how I've been his mother for a whole six years now. i have had the hardest time finding words to express how my heart feels about this child and it has been SO HARD!!! i can find so many beautiful adjectives to help me express how i feel about my oldest and my youngest. but, this child. the words just don't seem measure up. this (in no way) means that i love any one of my babies more than another, it is just that i am having trouble finding the words that embody what this kid means to my world.
he has been somewhat of a mystery since the day he came into my life. there are so many moments of mothering him that i can remember so clearly. moments that i just couldn't find the words to describe, but they just produce a cushy pause in the depths of my heart.
i find myself having to surrender a LOT when it comes to parenting this sweet boy. it is pretty safe to say that i have NONE of him figured out and i am ok with that now.
this year, just like the last year, he requested birthday meals ALL DAY LONG and we had a lot of fun just celebrating our kendall bear turning SIX years old. we brought the camera along throughout the day and you can check out his birthday vlog below.
i love you, kendall carter, with all the big and small pieces of my heart. i pray that you know that ALWAYS!!!
Happy Birthday Bear
From Mommy, With Love
I'm pretty sure these are becoming my favorites, her visits. my sister got offered a position at a hospital about an hour or so away and its been hard for me. :( i know it is only an hour but i was used to her stopping by after shifts and in between other appointments for time to time. when she moved away, it made me sad. i tried my best not to let her know that but it was.... sad. i think i was mostly sad for the kids because she is such a joy and the learning never stops when she's around. so, when she popped up one day with her guitar and a quick plan for an impromptu music lesson... homeschool crashing was welcomed here!!!
the kids learned a few chords on the guitar and notes on the piano, then we ended things with a great big ole' dance party. and, of course i grabbed my cameras to remember it all.
p.s. this is my absolute favorite way for my babies to learn. i love when they get to immerse themselves in the gifts, talents and knowledge of those that they love the most.
from syreena, with love
Hi, guys!!!! It took me far too long to figure out how to make these pages shareable than i would like to admit. turns out, it is one of the easiest things to do EVER.... like, EVERRRR!!!! any who... you can download them here Faith & Love Academy Planning Pages. Hope you find a few of them helpful and thank you so much for your patience with me. :)
In case you didn't arrive here from our homeschool channel, i wrote up a post on how i plan our homeschool lessons here on this blog. i also posted a video on our channel when i planned out our plant unit and more recently a very thorough ONE, TWO and THREE part posts on planning our geography unit that we are currently still on. a few people asked if i would share my planning pages and i finally loaded OUR HOMESCHOOL PLANNING PACKET HERE!!
I love that some of you have been tagging me in photos of you using the planning pages and i love that so much. i pray that they help add a little extra fun to your homeschool days and thanks so much for following along our homeschool journey!
from syreena, with love
i don't go out on sunday's. after church, we head off to pick up a few groceries and then head home to prepare dinner and spend the rest of the day getting ready for the week. at the most, we grab the kids pjs and head out to the grandparents house for dinner. this normally gives them a little time with their grands, we get a few moments to catch up and then back home, already in our pjs by now, to tuck everyone into their beds for the night. we don't go out on sundays.
but, this particular sunday was a tiny bit different. i, reluctantly, said yes to our dear friends to help them celebrate a birthday and, although extremely tired, i wouldn't have had it any other way.
we headed off to the city to walk, talk, grab some hot chocolate, apple cider and a candy apple in my case. then we found ourselves at an ice skating rink in the city's center square. my very first time... ice skating... with one of my favorite of friends.
and, of course i bought my camera along! i, now, wish i had chosen to bring my big camera along. somehow, i always regret not bringing that camera of mine. i could have gotten some pretty incredible shots of the buildings, the rink, etc. oh well. for sure, next time.
basically, i went out on a sunday. and, I'm so glad i did! happy birthday my beautiful friend. i love you two tons and 3 bunches girl!
from syrena, with love
its been a while since i did a proper homeschool post and i thought i need to do better making this blog my home base for all of the things that we have been putting our hands to. homeschool/lessons have been coming alive for us lately. i have been gaining a better handle on how to create an environment that they are eager to learn amongst and gathering resources and materials that are fun and engaging.
we, recently, stumbled upon a quick mini unit study of the shark. i gathered a few fun resources to add to our study, we explored a few incredibly shark facts and put together a fun shark model. i even got a chance to film a few of our studies over the last few days and linked those from our homeschool youtube channel, below.
my lady baby learned to spell a few new words like FISH along with her sight words and now knows that a group of fish are called a "school". the look on her face when she knows the answers is priceless!!! and, it was a joy watching the boys work together (on their own) to complete their shark model. i listed a few of the links to the resources we used for our quick study in the description box of each video if you're interested.
from syreena, with love
it is a shame i am just getting around to posting these pics from thanksgiving. my babies had so much fun spending time with their cousins and love to see that so very much. i have been so consistent with my posts on my vlogging channel and even our homeschool channel, but i haven't done the best job keeping up here :( .
thanksgiving weekend was so much fun. my babies got a chance to hang out with their cousins and there is nothing like being with your family. we headed off to jumpology on our last day together for a fun filled early celebration of their cousins 4th birthday.
^^^ this kid is so very special to me ^^^
i got to hang with my mommy, my bestie and my niecey-pooh (i just missed her birth by an hour) ...
afterwards, we headed to get pizza with all the kiddies. kendall bear got the chicken fingers and fries and had a blast listening to all his cousin's chatter.
I'm pretty sure we should just go ahead and call this day "national cousin day out" from now on. smells like a tradition to me. :)
from syreena, with love
it is december 1st!!!! like the first day of december 2016! to say that this year has gone by so incredibly fast would be the ultimate understatement. its bananas (do people even say bananas anymore???), well, it is. technically it is december 2 because it is the very end of my day, i am tucked into bed and the date and time in the top right corner of my macbook says Fri 1:00AM.
we are heading into 2017 and i have something to prove... to... well, ME! i am setting out to post one video on both of my channels and one entry on this blog of mine every day for the month of december!!!
its crazy aggressive, i know. but, i just need to kill the idea of waiting for perfect and just DO. i am not adding any other goals to my list (which tend to get ridiculously long), just that.
-one video to from syreena, with love.
-one video to faith & love academy.
-one post to this blog of mine.
trading in perfect for done!!!
because i know that this is a crazy aggressive goal, especially for the month of december, i will need to be very protective over my time and bff's with my schedule. my prayer is that i will begin to give more attention to my strengths rather than highlighting my weaknesses and making these little videos of mine really help me to move in that direction.
my oldest took this photo of me with the big camera and he makes me so crazy happy inside...
of course most of them looked like this one but ah well...
anyways, its crazy late and i need to prepare my mind for tomorrow (so much drama, i know LOL)
from syreena, with love
well, i haven't done a life & love post in a while and its well overdue. i ,actually, haven't been taking as many photos with my phone lately as it seems I've traded it in for my "big" camera a lot these days. i still always end up with lots of gems that bring back such beautiful memories. memories of moments full of joy and laughter and even memories of all the "hot mess" moments that i am just glad i have picture proof that i made it through, lol.
tomorrow will officially be the first of december, the last month of 2016 and it seems so crazy to say. this year has FLOWN by and i must say that i am glad to see it go :) here are just a few things that i would like to remember from the last couple of months...
1. i decided to do a better job caring for my hair which has meant a couple of homeschool mornings at the salon with mommy.
2. cams soccer season came and went and although i love to see my baby play, sunday afternoon travel soccer games are for the birds. after every game i would ask him if he did his best and if he had fun. the answers were always yes, yes and I'm grateful for that. he did tend to fall a lot on the field and it was so hilariously painful to watch. heading off to a game i heard his sister say to her big brother, "don't fall this time, ok"! that girl :))))
3. morning. snapchat. selfies. FAMILY FUN!
4. regular trips to the library to return mounds of books, such a fun walk just a few steps outside of our front door.
5. date night selfies with my dear husband.
6. another year of walking for a cure for juvenile diabetes with our dear christian.
just a little life & love through the 4x5...
from syreena, with love
tonight, we put up our christmas tree and i have to admit, I'm sad to feel fall pass by so quickly (sorry, no christmas pictures yet, I'm just not ready) !!! i am pretty sure that time is flying by and I'm having trouble figuring out how to slow things down a bit. my dear husband has been on a new job for three whole weeks now and i snapped a few photos for old time sake. it was his first saturday OFF in a VERY LONG time and we spent it doing "normal things" with BIG gratitude.
the gratitude that I've felt since that first saturday OFF is most certainly a result of a change in perspective. he has had saturdays off on jobs in the past and i had no clue how much i took them for granted until they were taken away. i know that may sound bratty. i am aware that there are plenty of people that have to work long hours and through the weekends etc. but, its just not something that i want for my family. and, to have our weekends back again is pure GOLD in life right now.
my perspective changes when i think of them... i often say to myself. what would i say to him/her if they were in our shoes... experiencing the same challenges that life has thrown our way.... I've been thinking this way a TON lately.
i want them to know that purpose is where the prize is and that perspective and progress mean so much during challenging times. this is random, i know. but, so key. troubles don't last forever. just keep moving forward, just keep walking, one day at a time.
everything we did that saturday was so basic and i loved it! my dear husband washed the cars and the lady baby tagged along.
she is getting so big so quickly and i don't have another baby to buffer the sadness of all my babies growing so very quickly. it sucks.
there is a tree right outside of our front yard, that turns the most beautiful shades of fall and sheds all its leaves within a week. every year i get pictures of my babies jumping, laughing and playing underneath that beautiful tree!
every year this beautiful tree lets go of its gorgeous leaves with certainty that next year will bring new beauty. i want to do the same. i want to give out the best of me, all my love, all my gifts... with certainty that these beautiful parts of me will never dry up and always produce new and better each and every year.
as hard as it is to watch them grow so quickly, i have to adjust my perspective, they are were my purpose lies and it is in them that i find my prize.
i promise you, this average, basic, normal saturday... was the best thing that has happened to us in such a long time :)
from syreena, with love
i tried starting this post quite a few times. it all started something like... "its fall and i finally got a few family pictures, dot dot dot." i kept trying to write but it just didn't seem right! the reality is, i struggled with crazy emotions while editing and loading these pictures. pictures taken a couple of hours before brian was to report to work, wearing outfits that i had to piece together without much time or thought, and with the help of a father-in-law that drove about 45 mins to help me out so that i could get all five of us in at least one shot. let me be honest, i was salty!!
but, that morning, by the grace of GOD, we got up, got dressed, i PUT ON a smile, a sweet voice, CHOSE a grateful attitude and refused to let the opportunity pass me by. and thats honest! too often, the enemy steals things from ME with MY own permission. permission that I have given by allowing MYSELF to be in MY feelings and choosing to meditate on all of the challenges of MY days. its sad, but such an easy trap to fall into.
what you may not know, from looking at these pictures, is that this was about two weeks after we missed the opportunity to have "real" professional pictures taken of our little family. taken by someone i have loved and admired as a friend and a photographer for YEARS. when the chance for that friend to take our family pictures came around, i was ELATED... like, ridiculously ELATED. and, when i had to pass the opportunity by, it was painful (like, this is about so much more than pictures, painful).
what you may not know, from looking at these pictures, is that these last two years have been the HARDEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES. the main culprit of many of our issues has been based around provision. based around trusting HIM to PROVIDE.
so many opportunities have come along, many of which we have had to pass on by. its a frustrating state, when you allow it to be. but this morning, i saw an opportunity. he was to go into work a few hours later than the norm, his father was able and willing to help, i AMMM a photographer so i had everything i needed to make this work. and, 386 clicks later, i had about 21 pictures that make me so very happy inside.
later that same friend that was supposed to take our pictures sent me this reminder... "what we perceive as a lack of provision on God's part is often a lack of prioritization on our part." - Steven Furtick
i am learning how to shift my focus. learning how to focus on things the way GOD sees them. learning how to "show up" in spite of my frustrations and disappointments. learning that when i show up. he shows out! its like HE takes MY messy effort and makes it SWEET.
...learning that its so far from being about HOW he provides, but WHAT he provides. and, because, like a good father, HE knows what i need best!
this process of learning GODS way is interesting. sometimes the pieces start coming together and even then you still have moments where you think to yourself, "did i just make all of this up?" and its in the little pieces that HE shows you that its real.
last night just before putting the kids to bed brian shared THIS FACEBOOK VIDEO CLIP with me and i knew that what was being revealed to me was real...
with all of my heart, i love them! with all of my heart, i am committed to showing up!!! because it makes me better. showing up and allowing HIM to show out makes me a better me. it makes me the me that HE meant for me to be.
i really hope that this post made some sort of sense. and, i apologize for terrible run-on sentences, incorrect punctuation and the inability to find a time to write when i don't have 3 a year old climbing on my head and little boys constantly asking me to separate legos pieces while i type. this is just me.... showing up and hoping that HE shows out yet again.
oh and here is the vlog from that day if you care to watch... love you guys
from syreena, with love
our first "official" day of homeschool is here!!!!! and, Camp Faith + Love Adventure Academy is in full effect!!! i thought that "camp/scouts" would be a great theme for this year, an awesome way to give them more incentives to "achieve" and take more responsibility over their own character devlopment. i thought it would push the concept of adventure and as they reach certain milestones these pieces of flair that i found on etsy..... insanely adorable!!!
yes, i picked up a tent to really drive in our theme this year and they LOVE it. our first story time selection to kick off the year was BECAUSE YOU ARE MY TEACHER by sherry north. and of course i added a little "don't feed the bears" and campfire with marshmallows to our chalkboard.
the tent was a kids version, two person sleeper i found HERE. it is just the right size to fit my three little kiddies in for story time with a flashlight to start our day and end our nights.
we had such a successful first day and of course we vlogged a bit of it too if you care to follow along.
how was your kiddos first day of school? homeschool? private/public school? it such an exciting time and flies by right before your eyes. lets keep all the memories and make the most of the little things.
from syreena, with love
our last school year was a difficult one for me as a homeschool mommy. a lot was happening in life (and still kinda is) and homeschool was becoming less and less fun and more and more stressful. that was when i knew that i had to start changing things a bit. i needed more of ME infused into our everyday school routine and i took to my pen and paper to get out some of the ideas i had and needed to so desperately incorporate into our "curriculum" for this coming school year.
i/we decided that our homeschool youtube channel was the perfect place for me/us to release some of my creativity and grow some things in myself and the kiddies that would benefit us in so many ways. the idea of growing our little channel to become our very own homeschooling network of sorts seemed like such an exciting idea. we would go on to create different "shows" that each of us would host based on the things that we are most interested in/good at. the first show that we started with, hosted by my kendall bear, COOKING WITH KENDALL & THE KIDS!!!
if you know anything about kendall it is that he is a foodie at heart. he would wear his chef hat and apron to bed if he could and he is constantly mapping out our family menu days ahead of time. i thought that a cooking show would be a perfect fit for my little bear. and, what better meal to start with than PIZZZZZZAAAAA!!!
we actually headed over to nana & pop-pops house to film this "episode" because our kitchen is so dark and difficult to film in. it was so my fun and the kids had such a good time.
we are really excited about this channel of ours and crazy excited at the thought of all the memories it will house. you can watch our pizza episode below and be sure to subscribe if you want to follow along. what other things would you like to see us make on cooking with kendall & the kids? we would love to know.
from syreena, with love
we're backkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk. to school, that is. well, we are easing back into school a little bit at a time. i actually scheduled our first day for next monday but the kids said they couldn't wait any longer so i pretty much gave in and said we could start back up..... on a tuesday!!!! LOL. i started off by letting them have there hand at a little art in there notebooks while we listened to a little music. and then we moved on to a little reading scripture to start our day off right.
i absolutely love how savannah blends her colors and rarely ever leaves any blank space. it makes me so happy to see her grow and develop in every area of life.
yes kendall often wears his chef hat and apron to "class" and i love it!!!
after about an hour or so of tiny lessons, we headed out to the front yard, barefoot, to get a quick "first day of school" pic for the records.
sometimes it is so hard to believe just how fast they are growing up.
i think we will be easing back into our school routine over the next week or so. we will be back in the swing of things in no time. :)
from syreena, with love
i have followed compassion.com for years now since first reading about them from one of my favorite bloggers ashely who blogs at underthesycamoretree. she has been a compassion blogger for years and i have always seen it as one of the causes that i would love for my babies and i to be a part of. so i was delighted to hear, one sunday morning, that my church was hosting the compassion experience! i had just recently signed up to become a compassion blogger, in hopes of raising awareness of the work that they are doing. being given the opportunity to visit the compassion experience with my littles just a few mondays ago, seemed like the very best way to begin my journey as a compassion blogger and i am so very excited.
there is a section of the compassion website that addresses questions of weather or not the experience is appropriate/beneficial for young children. now, having visited with my 3,5 and 7 year old, i would say yes!
when you get started on the experience, they hand each child a device and a set of headphones to allow for individual control of the stories you will hear as you walk through the different sections/childs stories.
i must admit that, with little ones, it is a little hard to juggle. hard to try and keep them on the same track with the stories at the same time as well as manage what their eyes are seeing and their tiny hands are touching while inside of each pod.
what i decided to do, by the time we got to the second room, was focus my attentions on my big since his attention was following the story along with the environment that he was experiencing. while my little and the lady just explored.
one thing i noticed is that they didn't seem too surprised by their environments and the stories they were hearing. they seemed pretty comfortable with each setting and not so "out of place". i am not sure if i will be able to communicate this very well but i was very happy with their responses. to me, their responses meant that i have been doing a decent job talking to them about the lives of others in the world. it meant, to me, that their hearts were soft and not shocked by hearing the struggles and sufferings of others. i try my very best to have heart-to heart conversations with them, often, to help them understand that we are here to spread/share Gods love for his children in a world that is broken and covered in darkness.
^^^ listening! i love this kid!!! ^^^
i was so glad that we fought through the challenges of the day and made it to visit the experience on its very last day at our home church. i would recommend you visit compassion and check out some of the awesome work that they are doing to bring more and more light to our world. there are many different ways that you can support their efforts and help to make a difference.
and of course we vlogged about it, if you would like to see what our day was like :)
from syreena, with love